Maryland auction house urged to cancel sale of Nazi memorabilia, to no avail

Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Historical Auctions, dismissed the criticism as “nonsense and sensationalism” in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

By World Israel News Staff

European rabbis and comunity leaders called on a prominent auction house in Maryland to cancel the sale of Nazi memorabilia, but to no avail.

Items up for sale, among others, at Alexander Historical Auctions on July 28-29 include a golden eagle from Hitler’s bedroom, Nazi toilet paper, a concentration camp “crusher” visor cap, and an engraved gold watch presented to Adolf Hitler as a sign of gratitude from Nazi party members — currently valued at 2 million dollars.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman and founder of the European Jewish Association, signed a letter urging the auction house to call off the sale. It was co-signed by Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands; Rev. Cornelis Kant, executive director of Christians for Israel International; and Andrew Cohen, President of the Federation of Synagogues in the United Kingdom, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Alexander Historical Auctions is known for its sales of high-value, high-profile pieces, including Frank Sinatra’s performance stool and the Rolex wristwatch gifted to President John Kennedy by Marilyn Monroe, the Post noted.

But some of the items sold at the prominent auction house were used for the persecution of Jews. The personal diaries of Josef Mengele were sold by the same auctioneer, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“That they [items] are sold to the highest bidder, on the open market is an indictment to our society, one in which the memory, suffering and pain of others is overridden for financial gain,” Margolin said.

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The purpose of the auction is “giving succor to those who idealize what the Nazi party stood for” or “offering buyers the chance to titillate a guest or loved one with an item belonging to a genocidal murderer and his supporters,” the letter states.

“Indeed, one can only question the motivation of those buying them [the items],” Margolin wrote.

Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Historical Auctions, dismissed the criticism as “nonsense and sensationalism” in an email to the JTA.

“What we sell is criminal evidence, no matter how insignificant. It is tangible, real in-your-face proof that Hitler and Nazis lived, and also persecuted and killed tens of millions of people,” Panagopulos said.

“To destroy or in any way impede the display or protection of this material is a crime against history,” he added. They “are NOT neo-Nazis, who are too poor and too stupid to appreciate any kind of historic material.”

“The sale of these items is an abhorrence. There is little to no intrinsic historical value to the vast bulk of the lots on display,” Margolin stated in his letter.