This matter came to light, after an article appeared in Britain’s Daily Mail. The publication found that said items included shoes and a suitcase from concentration camp prisoners, Star of David armbands that Jews were forced to wear and the alleged uniform of a Polish baker who died in Auschwitz.
EBay reacted quickly and responsibly by removing these 30 items from their website, making a sincerely apology, and then donating $40,000 to a charitable organization. The company admitted that they had no idea how long it had been helping sell items linked to genocide, but one Nazi memorabilia dealer boasted of selling an Auschwitz victim’s uniform for thousands of dollars on eBay last year. Ebay receives a commission on items sold, as well as charging a listing fee.
The Daily Mail identified Viktor Kempf of Vancouver as the seller of a pair of trousers purportedly worn by a prisoner who died in Auschwitz. Apparently, he was not selling these items for the money, and even had the audacity to say:
“If I was a descendant of a victim, I would want to see how my relatives lived. I would want to buy these items to remember them. I run the prisoner numbers on the items through a database to get the names but I personally haven’t had any contact with any of the families. It’s not my place to go searching for these people.”
Well, bless his little heart! All he would have to do is make one telephone call, send an email to a local synagogue, or to the Vancouver Jewish Federation. I doubt that he ever tried.
But enough said. It is revolting as well as being morally and ethically wrong to sell items obtained in this manner from the Holocaust!
There have been other examples. In 2012, the Montreal Auction House attempted to sell human remains taken from Treblinka.
Alexander Historical Auctions of Stamford, Connecticut sells Nazi memorabilia including original birthday greetings from Adolph Hitler, and Jozef Mengele’s hand written journals. Even Israel’s Yad Vashem refused to purchase these journals since it felt that it would be for financial gain and for someone to profit from the Holocaust.
Although most legitimate sellers of memorabilia and art from the holocaust take great pains not to become a vehicle for the sale of these items, Southeby’s is defending itself in a California lawsuit where the plaintiff is suing the company for selling him artwork once owned by Herman Goering which has now become worthless. There are also documented stories of peasants digging up human remains of those who perished in concentration camps.
One has to question why financial gain from the sale of child pornography is a criminal, illegal and obscene act, while the sale of memorabilia and artifacts from another kind of outrageous obscenity is permissible in Canada.
The purchase of memorabilia from the Holocaust can only excite the sick and depraved, neo-Nazis.
Apparently the sale of Holocaust memorabilia is banned in France, Germany and Austria, but not in Canada. In this country the sale of Holocaust memorabilia is not illegal as the sale of these items, alone would not meet criteria set out under current hate crime legislation. The only legislation applicable in this country is the Criminal Code which makes the improper handling of human remains illegal.
In the last 75 years, other examples of genocide have taken place across the globe. One only has to think about Darfur, Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia. Who is to say that war criminals did not prosper from the misery and misfortune inflicted on the victims of these genocides by looting.
I think that it is about time that the government in Ottawa takes action to investigate the feasibility of amending the Criminal Code of Canada, or establishing other legislation that would make it a criminal offence to participate in the sale, purchase, transportation, and any other involvement in the transaction “for profit” of items and memorabilia obtained as a result of looting or other criminal activities from the Holocaust and other genocidal events.
IT’S INSENSITIVE, MORALLY OUTRAGEOUS AND COMPLETELY WRONG TO PROFIT FROM THE HOLOCAUST OR ANY OTHER GENOCIDE.
I will be lobbying my federal representative to this effect, and hope to enlist support to establish a petition to achieve this goal.
I welcome anyone who is willing to help.