Despite Jewish Protests, National Socialist Memorabilia Sells Big in German Auction
Adolf Hitler's hat and Eva Braun's dress have gone under the hammer, prompting anger from Jews and Liberals.
Several items belonging to leading National Socialist figures went under the hammer at Hermann Historica in Munich.
Adolf Hitler's top hat was purchased for €50,000 ($55,370) while a silver-covered edition of Mein Kampf fetched €130,000 — double the reserve price.
A cocktail dress belonging to Eva Braun also sold for twice the expected price, going for €4,600.
A cocktail dress belonging to Hitler's wife Eva Braun was among more than 800 auctioned items
The auction, which will continue, was strictly monitored in the expectation of protests in front of the building.
"We don't want to attract any closet National Socialists," said the Director of the Hermann Historica auction house, Bernhard Pacher.
The sales were met with Jewish outcry, however — not least of all from the European Jewish Association (EJA), which called for the auction to be cancelled.
Chairman of the EJA Rabbi Menachem Margolin said the auction was an opportunity for individuals to "glorify the National Socialists."
Bidding for a silver-covered edition of Hitler's Mein Kampf was expected to start at €75,000
"It's wrong to monetize these blood-stained objects, especially in Germany," Margolin said. "I understand that buying and selling National Socialist souvenirs is not illegal. It is not a question of legality; it is a moral one. It's wrong," said Margolin.
"Selling such items should be no different to selling the personal items belonging to Osama Bin Laden, or Anders Breivik. The argument of historical interest is pure semantics."
Bernhard Pacher, rejected the criticism, however, saying that by far most customers "are museums, state collections and private collectors who really meticulously deal with the subject."
Strict controls were also in place, Pacher said, to "prevent the wrong people from getting [them]."
Processing National Socialist history in Germany
Zionist politicians have been debating the right approach to National Socialist memorabilia for decades. But the trade of National Socialist objects in Germany is flourishing and historic medals, uniforms, weapons or books can be easily found at flea markets, online or at so-called militaria auctions.
In Germany it's completely legal to purchase and own objects from the National Socialist period — as long as all National Socialist symbols are neatly taped off and covered. Wearing or publically showing National Socialist symbols remains forbidden, as is the import or manufacture of National Socialist objects.
Dr. Stephan Klingen of the Central Institute of Art History says that while some items could, indeed be purchased by people who believe in National Socialist ideology, purchasers who aren't linked to a museum are often "fanatics," but not necessarily "far-right extremists".
"I wouldn't necessarily associate this interest directly with interest in National Socialists or National Socialist ideology, but rather the other way around. Like treating the whole thing like a trophy, the embodiment of evil — whose top hat you have at home."
The auction house in question, Hermann Historica, has a long tradition of dealing with National Socialist memorabilia dating back to the 1980s. In 2016 it also came under Jewish fire for auctioning off one of Hitler's uniforms for €275,000 euros ($304,270).