Warning: The photos above and below contain sensitive material
A Toronto-based Jewish organization is raising concerns about the sale of Nazi memorabilia at an Ontario antiques market.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) for Holocaust Studies says one of its members was at the Roadshow Antiques South market in Pickering over the weekend and noticed a vendor selling items that included a deck of cards printed with swastikas, stamps featuring Hitler, a Nazi flag and Hitler Youth pins.
The centre said it sent a staff member to the market on Wednesday and confirmed the items were still being sold.
The staff member asked customers at the market what they thought of the items, the centre said, and one woman remarked that “her (late) husband admired the Nazis.”
FSWC president and CEO Avi Benlolo said he is concerned about that kind of thinking.
“This kind of thing is horrific,” he said. “People are venerating the Nazis and celebrating the regime.”
FSWC said it raised concerns about the vendor’s items with Pickering’s mayor, the antique market’s owner and Durham regional police.
It said the display and sale of the items is hurtful to members of the Jewish community.
“There’s a rising tide in celebrating the Nazis and believing that what they did was right. We are very concerned about that kind of philosophy,” Benlolo said.
The owner of the antiques market said, however, that he will continue to allow the vendor to sell what he calls German – not Nazi – memorabilia because the items are a part of history.
“We sell these products to Jewish people who want to show their kids that the Holocaust did happen,” said Henry Jones. “They should be out in the open for the public to decide how they feel about it.”
Jones said the situation is no different from someone selling a samurai sword or pictures of the Enola Gay, a U.S. B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the Second World War.
Similarly, Jewish museums collect German memorabilia to illustrate historic events from the past, he added.
Jones did not identify the vendor selling the items that had raised concerns for the FSWC but said the man specialized in the sale of military items and has had a booth at the market for four years.
Durham police said they’re aware of a vendor selling the items at the market.
FSWC said the police confirmed that the situation does not constitute a hate crime, nor is it illegal to sell Nazi memorabilia.