A Quebec auction house is refusing to withdraw white supremacy memorabilia despite objections from the Jewish community, including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), WJC’s Canadian affiliate.
The items include two Nazi honorary medals, as well as another medal, and a penknife that is associated with the Ku Klux Klan. One of the awards is a double-sworded War Merit Cross, which was awarded to Nazis who worked in concentration camps as SS officers, according to Holocaust historian Dieter Pohl.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Quebec co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs confirmed reports that CIJA had talked with Nicolas Marcoux, one of the auction house’s owners, and encouraged him to “look to their conscience and, in the interest of civic responsibility,” to remove the items from the auction. Unfortunately, Marcoux was unconvinced and the items went up for auction.
Rabbi Poupko said, “While trading Nazi memorabilia and other items related to racist ideologies is not illegal in Canada, it is morally indefensible to allow entities to profit from items emblematic of the genocide of Jews and the murderous persecution of African Americans.”
Marcoux defended the decision to sell the memorabilia, saying that the objects “[remind] of the obligation to be better informed, to better understand what has passed.”
“If we knew that it could fall into the hands of someone who wanted to make a promotion, we would terminate the transaction,” he said.
According to Avi Benlolo, CEO of the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, the sale of Nazi memorabilia is growing in Canada, “partly because there is a rising tide of Nazi movements and white supremacist movements collecting and venerating and celebrating this kind of ideology.”
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder has been a fierce critic of the sale of Nazi propaganda and memorabilia. Following the discovery that Amazon was selling an antisemitic Nazi-era children’s book depicting Jews in devilish form, Lauder said that it was “bewildering and frightening that in this digital age, in which we are more than well-aware of the dangers that can arise from the dissemination of hateful material online, Amazon would continue to allow the sale of an unquestionable piece of Nazi propaganda that brands Jews as no less than ‘poisonous mushrooms’.”