Auction items 

Westmount company halts auction of Nazi medals ‘to avoid controversy’

B’nai Brith denounced “efforts to market Nazi memorabilia and the unethical practice of profiting from genocidal paraphernalia”.

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A Westmount company decided to cancel an auction after being informed that B’nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish human rights organization, was about to ask it to remove the German medals from the World War II featuring a Nazi swastika for sale online.

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The auction was scheduled to start on Friday and was available on the LiveAuctioneers.com website. It was going to be held by the P&R Auctions collectors service in Westmount.

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When contacted for comment on Saturday, auction house co-owner Patrick Desparois first told the Montreal Gazette he considered the items historic.

“We’re just selling the story. It’s part of the story. Unfortunately, the story is not always rosy, said Desparois. “As an auction house, we sell historical objects. We do not encourage propaganda. Never. History is often sad, but we sell historical objects.

“I can sympathize. My (business) partner is Jewish, by the way. He understands it very well. »

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Less than two hours later, Desparois said he contacted the person who wanted to sell the items and said he decided to cancel the auction “to avoid any controversy.”

Through an email exchange, a LiveAuctioneers.com spokesperson said, “Our company does not own or sell any of the merchandise listed in the auction house catalogs published on LiveAuctioneers.com, and does not does not tolerate the promotion of hateful ideologies. The auction in question is no longer available to bid on the marketplace.

Among the many items to be bid on were a “1936 World War II German Hitler Youth Lapel Pin” and a “World War II German RAD Lapel Pin”. Both items, along with several other medals, bear the Nazi swastika. On Saturday, some of the items had already been auctioned before the auction was cancelled.

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A reader of the Montreal Gazette noticed the auction and informed the newspaper. The issue has come up a few times over the past few years and other auction houses, including one based in Montreal, have pulled similar items after groups like B’nai Brith complained.

“While the sale of Nazi material is not illegal in Canada, B’nai Brith denounces efforts to market Nazi memorabilia and the unethical practice of profiting from genocide paraphernalia,” said Marvin Rotrand. , National Director of the B’nai Brith Human Rights League. before the cancellation of the auction. “Nazi-era artefacts belong to museum collections that can educate visitors about the tragic and horrific history of Nazi Germany.”

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Rotrand said B’nai Brith intended to contact the auction company soon and also called on “dealers in general” to stop selling Nazi memorabilia to the public.

“It hurts Holocaust survivors and their descendants and sends the wrong message about a regime that murdered 6 million Jews and millions more,” Rotrand added. “It’s totally false.”

Desparois noted that other auctions advertise what they sell, while his company does not.

“We didn’t spend a dime (on advertising) on ​​it because I don’t want to argue with it,” he said before the auction was cancelled. “I’m not interested in promoting items like this.”

In November 2019, an auction house in Richmond, British Columbia, removed similar medals from an auction after the Vancouver branch of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs raised concerns.

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In February 2020, an online auction firm in Montreal removed Nazi memorabilia, including World War II insignia with swastikas on it, after receiving a complaint from the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies, based in Toronto.

In November 2021, B’nai Brith Canada convinced three Edmonton antique stores to remove Nazi memorabilia from its shelves. In a statement, B’nai Brith Canada said the sale of such memorabilia “often encourages the romanticization of Nazi ideology.”

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