Nazi tattoo stamps on auction in Jerusalem, sparking backlash

“This will ultimately be a win-win situation,” said the auction house’s owner, as a prominent rabbi appealed to the Israeli government to stop the sale.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A Jerusalem auction house’s announcement that it would be auctioning off tattoo “stamps” (numbered needles) used by Nazis to tattoo concentration camp inmates has sparked outrage throughout the Jewish world.

The Tzolman auction house is offering the gruesome items along with an instructional brochure from the manufacturer.

But while some Jewish leaders are vocally expressing their displeasure with the sale, the owner of the auction house said the backlash is raising awareness about the Holocaust.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, wrote in an open letter addressed to Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar that the “despicable sale” must be stopped.

“I appeal to you personally to do everything in your power to prevent the humiliation of the victims and the sale of stamps that were used to burn the arms of millions of European Jews,” Margolin wrote.

“The trade of such sensitive items cannot be allowed.”

89-year-old Auschwitz survivor Naftali First, who was tattooed at the extermination camp, told Israel Hayom that he was disgusted by the auction.

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“I got this number on my arm when I was 12 years old. I [was told to] put my hand on a table, then I was stabbed [with the tattoo stamp] and that’s how the number was formed,” he recalled more than 75 years later.

“Holocaust related items, found during or after the Holocaust, or belonging to the estates of the victim, should not be auctioned.

“The stamps belong at Yad Vashem [Holocaust museum], not in private hands,” he added.

But the auction house’s owner, Meir Tzolman, challenged the idea that the sale was disrespectful to victims of the atrocity.

“I feel that by doing this sale, I have a great merit to help increase awareness of the suffering of Holocaust survivors,” Tzolman said in a statement.

“In recent days, I have received a lot of phone calls from people who want to bid on the set in order to donate it to a museum.

“I hope this will ultimately be a win-win situation, where the owner gets a good price for it, and that it will find a home in a museum where it can give proper respect to its history.”

The negative publicity, Tzolman said, is serving an an important reminder to the public about the horrors of the Holocaust.

“Had the sale been done under the table, it is doubtful whether people would have become acquainted with the Nazi atrocities.”

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The business estimates that the tattoo stamp will sell for between $30,000 to $40,000.