Nazi memorabilia auction in France canceled after criticism

An auction of Nazi memorabilia, including items that belonged to Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering, has been called off in France following objections from Jewish groups and a prominent government official.

The Paris auction company Vermot de Pas had scheduled the sale for April 26 but called it off Monday. The cancellation came soon after French culture minister Aurélie Filippetti told Le Monde she didn't want the auction to take place.

The auction house said on its website that "in light of the strong emotions from numerous people, this decision seems proper and necessary."

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Among the items being offered for sale were photographs, books, small furniture and other objects that date from the Third Reich. The lots included a photograph of Hitler created by Heinrich Hoffmann, the Fuhrer's official photographer, that had been at Hitler's home, the Berghof.

The lots included a few other photographs taken from the Berghof. Some of the objects for sale featured swastikas.

Jewish groups in France had objected to the auction in recent weeks. An organization called Le Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’antisémitisme had said the auction "has nothing to do with art or culture," according to Le Monde.

Another group known in France as Le CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France) had called upon Filippetti to speak out against the sale. "It's not a question of legality, but a question of morality," group vice president Jonathan Arfi told Le Monde. 

Items in the auction had been seized from Nazi strongholds by forces from France's second tank division during World War II, according to Radio France International.

France has strict laws regarding anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust, though the auction didn't appear to be in violation of those laws.

In recent years, the country's media have covered a number of high-profile instances of anti-Semitism, including the charges brought against comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala for what many saw as anti-Semitic jokes and routines. 


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