Montreal

'Quite revolting': Nazi relics removed from Montreal auction site after Jewish group sounds alarm

Among the items for sale were metal badges with swastikas, a statuette of a Nazi imperial Eagle and two daggers, one inscribed with “Alles Für Deutschland” — in English, “Everything for Germany.” 

Company says items were returned to owner with advice on where to donate them

The auction site removed the ads soon after being contacted, saying it would re-evaluate its verification process. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

A Toronto-based Jewish organization has denounced the sale of Nazi memorabilia for profit after spotting some items for sale on the Montreal section of an auction site.

"There aren't any laws against selling Nazi memorabilia. We've seen it happen on many occasions," said Avi Benlolo, the CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center For Holocaust Studies.

"Our position is it is quite revolting to sell memorabilia from a genocide."

After it was contacted by the Wiesenthal Center and CBC, Encans en Ligne Montreal, the company that posted the items to QuebecHiBid.com, took down the ads for the Second World War-era items on Wednesday afternoon, but not before several bids had already been posted.

The items included metal badges with swastikas, a statuette of a Nazi imperial Eagle and two daggers, one inscribed with "Alles Für Deutschland" — in English, "Everything for Germany." 

QuebecHiBid.com took down ads for the World War II-era items on Wednesday afternoon, but not before there were several bids already made. (Screenshot of QuebecHiBid.com)

"We have removed all German items from our online auction site," the Montreal-based company said in an emailed statement.

"Not being experts in the field, we accepted the objects because our client advised us that they were just items from WW II that he inherited."

The items have been returned to the owner with advice on where they could be donated, such as educational institutions or museums, said Encans en Ligne Montreal. It said it intends to improve its verification process of these types of items.

Should such items be illegal?

Benlolo said it's important that Canadians censure the sale of Nazi memorabilia, which he says is a growing phenomenon.

"We have seen it in flea markets, open on display," he said. 

"That's partly because there's a rising tide of Nazi movements, white supremacist movements collecting and venerating and celebrating this kind of ideology."

Avi Benlolo, CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC), says Canada shouldn't rule out making the sale of Nazi relics illegal if there is a surge of items being sold. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC)

The centre does have some memorabilia that it uses to educate students about the Holocaust and how the Nazis used such items to promote hatred, grow in power and commit genocide. 

Nazi memorabilia is less common in Canada than overseas, but keeping such items is strictly prohibited in some parts of Europe, Benlolo said.

"I think we, as a society, should think about whether there should be laws against collecting this memorabilia," he said.

It is important to not infringe on freedom of expression, he said, but if such items do become prolific and give rise to hate-based ideology, "then we need to take serious consideration as to whether it should be outlawed."

with files from Simon Nakonechny

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