Among the items for sale Saturday at a southern Wisconsin auction business are a box of World War II German replica pins featuring swastikas.
An Illinois antiques dealer, who is Jewish, is upset about the sale and contacted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The woman, who asked not to be named, was perusing auctions on estatesales.net and saw the upcoming consignment and estate sale by Blue Toad Auctions of Genoa City. She talked to someone at estatesales.net who “tried to tell me that it’s historical reproductions.”
“Nobody is reproducing that. It’s something that’s sold underground at gun shows. No reputable antique malls sell it; eBay stopped selling Nazi memorabilia,” said the dealer.
“It’s like ivory. There’s a ban unless you have paperwork so people try to say it’s faux ivory or bone just to get around the rules.”
Bill Theesfeld, owner of Blue Toad Auctions in the small Walworth County community near the Illinois border, said he occasionally gets World War II items from both Allied and Axis countries, sometimes from dealers and often from families of veterans who brought home spoils of war.
Theesfeld said he understands the sensitive nature of selling World War II items from Germany and Japan, which is why he does not use “Nazi” or “swastika” when identifying sale items.
“I can understand; that’s why we never use words that are derogatory. We use descriptive words for historical reasons and we try to be as respectful as we can,” Theesfeld said in a phone interview Thursday.
Among the items for sale, which a military expert told Theesfeld are reproductions: an enamel Nazi Party pin; a Panzer tank badge; a general assault badge featuring a dagger and hand grenade awarded to German soldiers who supported infantry attacks but did not qualify for the infantry assault badge surrounded by a gold garland signifying 100 attacks; and a German Labor Front medal featuring a swastika inside a gear identical to a logo unveiled by the Nazis when a Volkswagen factory was opened in 1938.
The Illinois dealer pointed out that Amazon came under fire last year for selling merchandise featuring Nazi symbols and eBay stopped selling Nazi memorabilia several years ago.
A July 2018 report by two nonprofit groups, the Action Center on Race and the Economy and Partnership for Working Families, accused Amazon of failing to make good on a pledge to remove extremist merchandise from its website. A check of Amazon on Thursday showed a few items for sale, including German coins and postage stamps featuring the swastika.
Saturday’s sale by Blue Toad Auctions features items from numerous people seeking to sell stuff ranging from Coca-Cola collectibles, old toys, dishes and vintage greeting cards to Hummel figurines, sports cards, tools and ladies’ hats.
The World War II German pins are from an antiques dealer. A few weeks ago, original German war memorabilia was sold by Blue Toad Auctions, including an Iron Cross medal, a Luftwaffe officer’s hat badge and a wound badge given to German troops injured in battle. The auction business has also sold Japanese samurai swords and items brought home from the Pacific by American World War II veterans.
“Unfortunately, now (World War II veterans are) passing away and families bring things to us and we auction them for the family,” said Theesfeld.
“If it’s anything hate-filled, we don’t sell it. We don’t sell KKK stuff and no propaganda,” Theesfeld said. “Some of our buyers do (World War II) re-enactments and others are military collectors.”
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