A Waffen SS helmet.

Nicholas Jensen
The Australian
November 7, 2022

An auction of Nazi memorabilia at a military antiques store in Western Australia has sparked outrage among the country’s Jewish leaders, who are calling for a nationally consistent approach to outlawing the display and trade of Nazi symbols.

A cache of ceremonial daggers embossed with Nazi swastikas and several SS officer caps are set to go under the hammer at JB Military Antiques later this month, with online bidding for some individual items estimated to fetch up $5000.

The auction has attracted criticism from several Jewish organisations, which have condemned the sale of Nazi memorabilia – including a 1933 patterned dagger and an SS officer’s cap with “totenkopf badge”, each valued up to $7000 – and said the items be withdrawn.

Auctioneer James Blewitt, who established the antiques store more than a decade ago, told The Australian trade in Nazi memorabilia did not glorify the regime and its beliefs but helped “preserve historical artefacts”.

“We don’t hold any political views. We’re offering a legitimate and legal service for collectors to buy and sell those items,” Mr Blewitt said, adding that most people who engaged with the auction were “passionate about military history”.

“We don’t sell anything that deals directly with concentration camps and the Holocaust. I draw the line at those sorts of pieces,” he said. “But I see the SS items as historical items just like Soviet Russia and Maoist China items.”

Last year, the Morley-based store came under scrutiny for auctioning eight items, including a hairbrush and cigar box, that were advertised as having belonged to Adolf Hitler.

Mr Blewitt was confident the trade was done respectfully and did not seek to attract neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive Darren Bark said the auction items belonged in a museum as a “reminder of the pain and suffering innocent people endured at the hands of the Nazis”.

The auction comes after Victoria became the first state to criminalise the public display of the swastika in June, followed by NSW two months later.