Why Would Anyone Collect Nazi?

June 23rd, 2011

When we started inviting people to post items from their collections on Show & Tell, we knew that sooner or later we’d be faced with a Nazi swastika. At first, we simply followed the lead of eBay and deleted anything with a Nazi swastika on it that was not a coin or a stamp. But then we noticed that the handful of people who were uploading these World War II medalshelmets, and badges appeared to be sincere militaria collectors, not neo-Nazis trying to sneak an offensive image onto our site.

The problem, of course, with anything bearing a Nazi swastika, regardless of its historical value, is that most people find the symbol offensive. It was the banner of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, which was responsible for the slaughter of some six million Jews, millions of ethnic Serbs and Poles, and hundreds of thousands of gypsies, people with disabilities, and homosexuals. Of the countries the Nazis attacked, the Soviet Union lost almost 20 percent of its population or 23 million souls, roughly three million of whom perished in prisoner-of-war camps.

But for collectors like AR8Jason, Nazi memorabilia, particularly those bearing the swastika, are unambiguous reminders of this suffering. Though upsetting to many, he believes these pieces have a place in any discussion of World War II. “To obliterate the symbols of Nazi Germany,” he says, “would be to obliterate that period from our knowledge, and to forget what took place. We need to be aware of what caused Nazi Germany, what happened, and how much horror came to this world because of it.”

1. Theodor Fritsch's "Handbook of the Jewish Question" laid the groundwork for German anti-Semitism in 1896. When this edition was printed during the Nazi era, its cover bore a swastika. 2. Many of the flags and pins collected by people interested in Nazi artifacts were made by a company called Bernard Richter, whose 1935 catalog is shown at top.

1. Theodor Fritsch’s “Handbook of the Jewish Question” laid the groundwork for German anti-Semitism in 1896. When this edition was printed during the Nazi era, its cover bore a swastika. 2. Many of the flags and pins collected by people interested in Nazi artifacts were made by a company called Bernard Richter, whose 1935 catalog is shown at top.

AR8Jason served in the United States Navy from 1979 to 1983 and left active service, honorably, as a second-class petty officer. Today, he continues to serve his country as a commander at his local Veterans of Foreign Wars post. For the past 25 years or so, he’s also been a collector, gravitating toward belt buckles, pocket watches, advertising pieces, and practically anything else that tells a story or can be pegged to a particular moment in U.S. history.

Not surprisingly, then, he also collects militaria, including medals and insignia worn by U.S. and Allied forces during World War II. Less intuitively, considering his passion for U.S. history and his past and present service to his country, he’s also collected a few Nazi-era items.

But you don’t have to look very far, AR8Jason says, to see what happens when history, however upsetting, is expunged from a culture or society. “We have a leader of Iran today who says the Holocaust did not take place. But even my youngest daughter knows better, and she’s in junior high school. So we should not remove these pieces from the public knowledge, from public view. I don’t see it as a glorification of Nazi military items. I’m a historian—these are pieces of history.”

3. A pair of pages from a 1935 German spelling book shows how the swastika was integrated into daily German life.

3. A pair of pages from a 1935 German spelling book shows how the swastika was integrated into daily German life.

According to AR8Jason, the collecting of Nazi military items is not especially common among U.S. vets. “The World War II vets really didn’t get into collecting Nazi stuff,” he says. “But while they were over there, they picked up some souvenirs and brought them home. As those World War II vets have been dying off, these things are coming out of their hidden war chests and hitting the market. A lot of vets never talked about their experiences when they were alive because they didn’t think anyone would understand.”

“To obliterate the symbols of Nazi Germany would be to forget how much horror came to this world because of it.”

One of the purposes, he says, of organizations like the VFW is to give members a chance to share their experiences with people who really do understand what they’re talking about. “My suggestion to families is to get their family member who’s a veteran together with another veteran, then sit back and let them have a conversation,” he says. “Maybe record it—they will glean a lot of information about their family member and the history of those items that way.”

Mike, who prefers not to give his last name and posts on Show & Tell as stepback_antiques, is another collector whose wide interests include Nazi militaria. Unlike AR8Jason, who has military family roots, Mike did not serve in the military or have relatives who did. “Growing up in the 1960s, I was influenced by TV shows like ‘Combat’ and ‘Rat Patrol.'” he says. “When you’re a kid, you play soldiers all the time. One day a couple of neighbors came by and gave me a two badges from World War II that they had obtained while they were in Europe. One was German, and one was American. I just threw them in a box. When I was a bit older, probably in the mid-1970s, I was in an antiques store and saw a Japanese helmet. I thought it would be cool to have so I bought it. From that point on, I went to flea markets and antiques stores, and my collection just built from there.”

For Mike, Nazi and Japanese World War II militaria was intriguing for numerous reasons. “The American pieces were pretty easy to obtain,” he says. “Part of the attraction of collecting the German and Japanese pieces was the hunt—a lot of the Japanese equipment at the end of the war was melted down and destroyed. U.S. vets came back with pocketfuls of German badges, a helmet, a rifle, or a flag, but they were harder to find.”

4. Much to Adolf Hitler's dismay, an African-American sprinter named Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

4. Much to Adolf Hitler’s dismay, an African-American sprinter named Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Aesthetics were also a consideration. “The German pieces had more visual appeal to them. An American helmet would just be green, whereas the different branches of the German Armed Forces had different colored helmets with different decals on them. Each branch of the service also had its own badges.”

While Mike has specialized somewhat on pieces associated with the Kriegsmarine, or German Navy, all of his Nazi pieces have one thing in common. “I only collect military items that were carried by the soldiers,” he says. “I don’t care anything at all about Hitler or flags. It doesn’t interest me. I’m just a guy who collects things that your average soldier carried every day through the war.”

For Mike, this is an important distinction between what he’s doing and the motivations of others who are interested in Nazi materials more broadly. “You have other people,” he says, “who are really focused on Hitler and all that stuff. I don’t have a picture of him anywhere in my house. I despise the man. I’m interested in what it must have been like for a common German man to have to go off and fight for his country. There was a fear that if you didn’t do what you were told to do, your family would suffer the repercussions. What would I have done if I had been in that position?”

For some, any sympathy at all for anything related to the Nazis is unacceptable, as Mike quickly found out. “I got a couple of comments on Show & Tell from two different people who said, ‘Why don’t you get a job, you Nazi?’ That’s hard. I am not a militarist. I don’t like war. But at the same time, I look at things from a war historian’s point of view.”

5. These German World War II badges were awarded to soldiers, or their families, for being wounded or killed in battle.

5. These German World War II badges were awarded to soldiers, or their families, for being wounded or killed in battle.

While the controversy over Nazi material is a relatively recent phenomenon, the history of the swastika itself goes back almost 5,000 years. Beginning in the Bronze Age, Hindus and Buddhists living in the Indus River Valley considered the swastika an auspicious emblem. Ancient Greek artifacts are frequently decorated with swastikas, some of which are interlinked, and the use of swastikas among Native Americans dates to pre-Columbian times. In fact, the symbol was so common to the early-20th-century Navajo that official Arizona highway signs from the 1920s through the 1940s featured swastika-stamped arrowheads and pottery shapes on them.

In the 1920s, though, the Nazi Party in Germany embraced the swastika, and by the 1930s the emblem’s previous positive associations had been all but forgotten. By the end of World War II, this almost timeless symbol of good had become the banner of the Holocaust, genocide, and evil.

Given the swastika’s mid-20th-century past, many people believe it will never be possible to have a dispassionate conversation about the swastika without inadvertently invoking the specter of the white-supremacist ideology promoted by the Third Reich.

“There’s unfortunately no way to address the topic without potentially offending the sensibilities of people who have been traumatized by the Nazi regime,” says Stanislav Vysotsky, who teaches sociology at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and has written extensively about contemporary hate groups.

6. Nazi military pieces, such as this Luftwaffe M-42 helmet, are popular among World War II history collectors.

6. Nazi military pieces, such as this Luftwaffe M-42 helmet, are popular among World War II history collectors.

Vysotsky describes himself as “fairly sympathetic” to what’s known as a no-platform position. “You should never create a platform for hate,” he says. Still, when it comes to the swastika, he believes there is a place for open discussion, “especially when that public discourse is about educating and enlightening people to the history of the items, and to their continued cultural significance and meaning as symbols of racism and genocide.”

“The swastika certainly has its place in historical archives, but if a person is just focused on Nazi material, then I think it’s perverse.”

For Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, intent determines whether the public airing of the swastika is considered acceptable or offensive. “Yes, it is okay to display a swastika, but it depends on the context. It could be very important to someone who fought in or survived World War II. It’s a part of their history.”

Stanislav Vysotsky agrees. “If you have people who are history aficionados,” he says, “then you’re talking about people who are collecting these items for historical purposes, as symbols of a reprehensible regime that was defeated and discredited. In the case of war veterans, they’re justifiably proud of their participation, or possibly a family member’s, in World War II. That’s very different from the way in which somebody who is a member of a contemporary neo-Nazi or supremacist group might be using these images.”

For neo-Nazis, owning a historic item with a swastika on it is a way to signal status within the group. “They’re being used,” says Vysotsky, “as something that can be displayed to other members to say, ‘Look at this cool thing I got that ties me back to the original Nazi movement, that ties me back to this hate.’ So in that sense, it’s a symbol of hate used to say, ‘This is how hardcore I am.’”

7. The front, back, and bottom of a porcelain mug typical of ones used by SS officers in their mess halls at concentration camps, field camps, city offices, and training camps.

7. The front, back, and bottom of a porcelain mug typical of ones used by SS officers in their mess halls at concentration camps, field camps, city offices, and training camps.

Foxman goes further. “There are a lot of people who collect Nazi stuff for the wrong reasons,” he says. “The swastika certainly has its place in historical archives. But if the person is just focused on Nazi material, then what does that say about them? There is a lot of stuff associated with World War II. Are they also collecting Soviet material? In other words, are they really a World War II collector? If all they collect is Nazi stuff, then I think it’s perverse.”

Other people specialize within the universe of Nazi materials for reasons that would be understandable to any collector. David Witte, who has written a yet-unpublished book on Camp Hale, Colorado, where the famous 10th Mountain Division was based and trained, has been collecting World War II era German porcelain for about 12 years. “I have no interest in the neo-Nazi aspects of today and only collect these items for museum purposes and to preserve the truths about the past,” he says.

Witte was drawn to porcelain because many other Nazi items—from medals to uniforms to daggers—are reproductions created for the contemporary hate-group market. “Porcelain is harder to fake,” he says. “And when I got started, not as many people were collecting it.” That changed in 1999, when the Academy Award-winning film “American Beauty” was released. In that film’s famous revelation scene, a son sneaks into his father’s study to steal a glance of his father’s prized Nazi plate. In “American Beauty,” Dad was definitely not a history buff.

8. On the left, a pre-1920s good-luck watch fob touting the virtues of Kansas City's livestock market. On the right, a pre-Nazi-era membership emblem distributed by the Boy Scouts.

8. On the left, a pre-1920s good-luck watch fob touting the virtues of Kansas City’s livestock market. On the right, a pre-Nazi-era membership emblem distributed by the Boy Scouts.

Like AR8Jason, Witte sees the pieces he’s collected as a bridge to history. “The Luftwaffe, DAF, RAD, Wehrmacht, SS, Police, and Kriegsmarine all had their own markings that German manufacturers put under and over the glaze of their porcelain when they were contracted to supply dishes to the German military and other organizations during the Third Reich,” says Witte. “The contracts were probably too good to pass up, and these porcelain companies were as caught up in the nationalist hysteria of Nazi Germany as everybody else.”

Because the swastika was once the banner for genocide on the march, both Vysotsky and AR8Jason doubt that the swastika will ever be associated with anything other than Nazis for a long time to come. “I’ve got a watch fob that has a swastika in the middle of it,” says AR8Jason. “It dates from around 1900, definitely pre-Nazi. So I think the swastika can mean other things to people who know its pre-Nazi history. But for most folks, it will always be associated with Nazi Germany.”

9. As explained on the back of this pre-Nazi good-luck postcard from around 1907, the swastika "forms a combination of four ‘L’s’ standing for Luck, Light, Love and Life.”

9. As explained on the back of this pre-Nazi good-luck postcard from around 1907, the swastika “forms a combination of four ‘L’s’ standing for Luck, Light, Love and Life.”

Vysotsky concurs. “I highly doubt it will ever mean anything else because the symbol carries such political and emotional weight. Plus, people who still adhere to Adolf Hitler’s ideology continue to venerate it. I think it’s become such a collectively understood symbol that it’s highly unlikely its representation will change.”

“Every time somebody sees a swastika, they’re going to link it to Nazis and World War II because it impacted so many people,” says Mike. For that reason, he’s careful not to foist his collection on people who visit his home. “When people come to my house, they see my baseball collection, my furniture. But I don’t show people everything I collect because I don’t want to offend anybody.”

As for the use of the swastika by contemporary white-supremacist groups, for AR8Jason, that’s just plain illogical. “If they want to glorify and aggrandize the Nazi movement,” he says, “they need to look to the end of the book and see what happened—Germany lost. Hitler described America as a mongrel people, but the mongrels proved to be stronger than his Aryans.”

(Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, OD43; 5, 6, stepback_antiques; 7, Polarhaven.net; 8, AR8Jason; 9, Arizona100)

43 comments so far

  1. Ivan Milovic,PhD Says:

    Collecting WW II militaria seems reasonable. But there is something bewildering: modern repros of yellow bands and The Stars of David made in Poland and openly sold as replicas. Who needs replicas of that kind? The museums should have genuine items – holocaust must not be forgotten! But replicas! This is sick.

  2. Rev. Guido S. DeLuxe Says:

    I think the swastika can mean other things to people who know its pre-Nazi history. But for most folks, it will always be associated with Nazi Germany.

    it will always be associated with nazi germany — despite the fact that the swastika – not the german hakenkreuz – has a history of more than 10,000 years, with every culture on the planet as a symbol of good luck and auspiciousness…

    i feel sorry for the people who will associate the swastika with less than 100 years of abuse, and ignore the 10,000 years of positive imagery. it seems really stupid to me.

  3. soubriquet Says:

    Another reason why people might collect WWII german items is that Germany was at the forefront of a modernistic design movement. The third reich valued design in all its aspects, from, as we see in the article above, items so simple as a coffee cup, to bigger things, autobahns, olympic stadia, battleships, motor vehicles, aircraft, they were ahead of their time.
    No good whatsoever is served by simply decrying anything produced in the Nazi era, because of what the Germans under Hitler did.
    The truth is that Germany, in the 1930s led the world in many fields.
    Collecting some of these items may serve to remind us that there was more to germany than genocide and barbarism.
    Perhaps that’s why we fear the swastika so much, it reminds us that the germans who carried those swastikas were people, in most ways, just like ourselves.
    And a knee-jerk fear reaction to swastikas is, quite simply, stupid. A few miles from where I sit, right now, are a group of stones on the moorland, known as the swastika stones. Their swastikas were carved upon them in the bronze age. Like most swastikas they have no connection whatsoever with concentration camps.

  4. deanteaks Says:

    nice job :)

  5. Edward Says:

    Sorry but, wouldn’t collecting american ww2 memorabilia be offensive to japanese people, since americans were the only ones in history to drop atomic bombs on civilian cities in HISTORY?

    Wouldn’t collecting japanese ww2 memorabilia be offensive to chinese people, that suffered terribly during the rape of Nanking?

    Wouldn’t collecting chinese wartime memorabilia be offensive to Tibetans?

    Give me a break already.

  6. Tam Says:

    Well said Edward

  7. Rosaura Says:

    I join Tam to say -“Well said Edward”- History is history and facts are just that facts. History is the study of the past aiming to avoid previous mistakes in the future to try to rather evade or demonize history facts just just lead us to make the same mistakes

  8. Blaine Martin Says:

    I must say I am proud of all the above posts. I am not a collector of militaria, but have a good friend that is. The majority of people who collect nazi items are true historians, and are preserving history. Of all the things about the war, maybe the things we dislike the most- because of the evil they represent – are the most important things of all to preserve. In history there is no place for political correctness. Only the facts matter, and no one should be offended by an historical fact. They can certainly disagree about interpretation, but they should not be offended. CW has taken the right stand to let people see these items and discuss them. Like them or not.

  9. Darrell Keith Thomas English Says:

    I have been collecting Nazi artifacts for going on over 40 years and have used my vast collection of over 10,000 items to help in educating the youth of today…Some have no idea about WW2/Holocaust or the Nazi..to them it’s just a name or a word someone made..Googel my name Darrell English to learn more about me and my work in this field

  10. jerry Says:

    i am german and i love my history. the good and the bad. not all people collect nazi things because they want to follow hitlers footsteps. i collect to remember all the soilders who died on both sides and to see how far germany has come. maney people hate geramy because of what nazis have done but never stop to think that the german soilders did what they were told to do. same as american soilders threw out history have killed inocent people because they were ordered but we dont hate them? there is good and bad in everything.

  11. In Japan Says:

    In Japan and other Asian countries, the swastika is still used as a symbol of Buddhism, and denotes a Buddhist temple on maps. In Japan, at least, the swastika (called “manji”) is usually a mirror image reversal of the Nazi usage. It has no connection to the Nazis and is more related to the pre-nazi usage of the swastika. So not everybody sees the swastika as only denoting Nazism.

  12. Doug Kenwright Says:

    The mug featured in the article, while original, has been embellished post war with the addition of the SS eagle and SS runes etc. in order to increase its value. Another reason to be wary when collecting Third Reich memorabilia.

  13. Carey Says:

    Why collect Nazi militaria?

    The short answer is education. Real examples of corporeal history are the most poignant markers in the learning experience. This is why museums are of such immeasurable value. Think of any lesson about history you learned, which ones stood out the most? Were they the lessons that included associated visual aids? I would venture that you said “yes.” Now, add a tactile element, that hails from the historical event itself. In my experience, there is nothing that can bring a greater sense of relevance to a lesson than a physical piece of history.

    Why should we be educated? Because history forgotten is doomed to repeat itself.

    Why should you not censor the schwastica?

    Is it offensive? It can be, though not always. This holds true in every instance of its use that is not related to the holocaust.

    Is Nazi related imagery disturbing? It is.

    This is the very reason we should all see it. The words “Never Forget” should never be allowed to be taken for granted. WWII was the most horrible event in the age of regular documentation. Do I even need to go into the reasons that it should never be lost to the sands of time?

    Please, if you have an ounce of decency in you, never deny a person the opportunity to be reminded of the true depths of depravity we can be lost in when we close our eyes to the horrors of the past. The only purpose political correctness can serve is to shelter us from the shameful events in our past. These are not things we should be turning our eyes away from. Rather, we should know the face of such evil. Only in facing our fears can we recognize their ugliness when they tries to show their faces once again.

    As for those contemptible few who would try to resurrect such horror (the neo-nazis), they are the minority. Would it not be better for us to see their brand of madness; to recognize it? How else can we hope to prevent the sins of our fathers from forcing themselves on our sons?

  14. jim femiano Says:

    ya know, I’m 61 and at seventeen, in 1968 I was stationed in Germany, also in 1969 I was in the viet Nam war. Just a little history.

    I really get tired of reading or hearing the phrase, ” Soldiers just do what they are told or We were following orders” Well to me that’s all a bunch of B. S. first and foremost a solider is a thinking, feeling human being with the ability to make decisions for himself! I and a few of the guys that I served with in Viet Nam made a conscience decision not to commit any war crime or inhumane act regardless of Orders! That was our right as humans and as far as I understand it, being an American solider.

  15. Michael Says:

    Nobody has mentioned that the Hindu style swastika has been a symbol of sun worship for thousands of years.

  16. Tara Says:

    I am not a collector per se, but as someone who grew up in a Hindu family in America, it is a strange dichotomy to know that the swastika means something good and serene to my family and a completely different thing to the outside world who would see these symbols in our house. I don’t think a conversation about displaying the swatika is helpful, because it itself has no power and no agency, but both the context and the viewer gives it whatever power it then mirrors to others. A swastika symbol next to a sign with hate speech on it does not make the swastika inherently evil, it is a symbol used by disgusting people to harken back to a time period where some truly grotesque things were going on. Seeing it on any of the numerous pieces of art or religious art coming from Asia (I’m not sure what, if any, the other cultural contexts of the swastika are) should not make people recoil in terror. In context, it means good wishes, or luck, or auspiciousness. Giving symbols agency means that we have given power to a neo-Nazi before he or she has even said or done anything. People spewing hate speech should be considered to be the fringe lunatics that they are, and not be able to frighten people because they have (inaccurately and sloppily)co-opted something from the Third Reich. That time was devastating because of what was actually being done to people, and allowing that fear to live on in a medal, or a helmet worn by mis-guided and mis-informed people both detracts from the real horrors of the Holocaust and confers more power onto people who in reality, have none and pose no real threat.

    Also, as someone who uses a lot of the study about trauma that came from looking at the aftermath of the Holocaust in my own research on exiled and diasporic communities around the world, I do have to walk around with books that proclaim very loudly that they were either written as propaganda materials during the Third Reich, or pleading for the cause of survivors. I realize that carrying a stack of Holocaust-related books into a Starbucks causes people to give me weird looks. and here is where I can relate to collectors. We are not perversely obsessed, and I for one have no interest in military history, like passing stories, this is a way for everyone to keep this story alive, as a precautionary tale to the entire world. These are artifacts of remembrance, either personally, familiarly, or generally. As being of South Asian descent, I have no personal ties to the Holocaust, but I have still visited Auschwitz and paid my respect to those who suffered. Like personal grief, everyone goes about it differently. This is no different. Let those who collect, collect. If that person starts wandering around spewing hate speech, then let’s have a discussion on what is behind that hate speech (socio-economic factors, cultural, religious?) and leave symbology out of it. It’s easy to point fingers at the swastika, it isn’t as easy to try to understand the complexities of human behavior and put the time and energy into helping people.

  17. John Says:

    Yet Che t-shirts are okay?
    Mao caps?

  18. Bob Says:

    I agree with all of the above comments, especially Edwards……There are a lot of beliefs that need to be “put to bed” so to speak….Good job all…
    Bob B

  19. MND Says:

    My grandfather fought the Germans in WWII and was nearly killed during multiple battles. When I grew up I recall rather vividly when I did the dishes visiting my grandparents as they had (some) Nazi porcelain (plates etc.). It was not with text or decorations on the front but typically swastika etc. on the back. But for them it was not something they pondered upon. Then again, they did not “collect” it, but it was used as any other resource. Good porcelain :P

    Even though traumatized for life because of the war it has always amazed me how down to earth and relaxed he was about such things.

    When it comes to the article It was an interesting read, but one also have to remember the Soviet Union. Hitler did not go to war alone. Stalin was his companion, – though they both had plans for stabbing each other in the back, Hitler beat Stalin to the punch. Even before the war had started Stalin had executed hundreds of thousands and caused the death of millions trough his politics. During the war, and after, the terror continued giving a death toll far beyond what Hitler managed. Put short. They were both terrible.

    One thing that then always has left me wondering is how the main stream attitude is “oh how terrible the Nazis was”, but when it comes to Soviet it is often an almost romantic twist to it. Why isn’t hammer and sickle frowned upon like the swastika?

  20. Marci Rapp, MarSea Modest Swim & Casualwear Says:

    I will try to keep this story short. I live in Israel – Melanie, a Dutch women born in Germany, recently came to Israel to donate a kidney to save a Jewish life in Israel. She just flew back today. Her motivation for the altruistic life saving transplant was to cleanse her soul from the sins of her Nazi SS guard grandfather (on her mother’s side). She gave the whole store that he was an SS guard in Ravensburk, was tried in the Nuremburg trials and sentenced to 10 years in jail. After he got out (around 1955ish?) he married and had kids (Melanie’s mother). As Melanie grew up she remembers visiting her Nazi grandfathers home and seeing “memorabilia” on the walls, dishes, etc. He died when she was 12 (around 1984), while she still not understand the meaning of Nazi Germany. When she was 16 her Dutch school took a trip to a concentration camp (Aushwitz?) and it hit her “like a truck” who her grandfather was. When she was 18 her mother gave her a suitcase filled with items from her grandfathers home – she says she destroyed it – copy of Mine Kampt, dishes, other items) Melanie dedicated the rest of her life to cleansing herself of her background – donating to charity, giving blood, but nothing did it until she got the idea to donate a kidney to a Jew in Israel. We tried to get media coverage of this remarkable story – but the holdup was on the Nazi background – Melanie has nothing to substantiate it and – the journalist finds it suspicious that there was memorabilia around after the man did jail and hid his identity (oh he changed his name after jail – so the Jews wouldnt find him)
    So the question is – is it possible that a former SS guard had Nazi memoriblia in his home, on display, if he was trying to remain hidden?

  21. Linda Cartmel Says:

    My father, a WWII vet, Tank Battalion 107, passed this March, 2014, age 90; he would have been 91 in July this year. He passed to me a Nazi flag, he tried to give to me prior to his death; I smiled, told him to keep it for later. :) To him, it was a sign of VICTORY, he told us, he took from a German Uniform factory from a town that his battalion overtook. A souvenir of another accomplishment as they pushed toward another victory. It has blood stains on it. Some would find it disgusting; but my dad was a 19 year old kid who saw more and was a part of history and Victory! I understand why he kept it all these years, do I display it, of course not, frankly, it is in my old cedar chest. My children are in their 40’s, their grandfather has told them and they have even recorded some of his ‘war’ stories and miracles; they will understand why their grandfather carried this sign of American Victory home. Many lives were sacrificed to overcome the Beast and his followers. Thus, I have a WWII Nazi Flag.

  22. J.Morosini Says:

    The swastika has been a symbol of Good Luck to American Indians many years ago (don’t know if they use it now)…Plus Rudyard Kipling…a writer of Poems Etc. use it on his Books as Good Luck…So how I see it…it has been out way before Hitler …Just because someone use it and made it bad doesn’t make the swastika a bad thing…it is the Person himself who was bad that took a good thing and make it bad (I guess he thought it would bring him luck).
    I do not like what Hitler and the people who agreed with him in what he was or did…My heart goes out to all whom where killed or hurt by him…All I am trying to say is what the real meaning of the swastika was before Hitler.

  23. Grady Dagnan Says:

    I have an old white platter with a nazi symbol on it. It has a picture of flowers on each side of a Queen and a horseshoe around her. It has a stamp on back . It says something like Sold Medal St. Louis owen china Minerva. What is it Thanks!

  24. Gail McWilliams Says:

    My great grandfather came to America from Germany. My father, who is quite German, fought in WWII against the Nazis, along with his brother. My father brought back a gray beer stein that says Flak-Regiment 9 (mot.) Legion Condor – Kriegsweihnachten 1943. It has a white eagle on it holding a swatstika. He was certainly horrified of what the Germans had done. I have the stein & it’s just a piece of history, representing that he was there, fighting against everything Hitler stood for.

  25. andrew levi corbett Says:

    i have a watch fob just like the one that is displayed in this article i found it buried when i was 16 im 25 now and just recently found it again i have been trying to find more information on it but have been unable to find anything on it i was hoping that some one on here could help me with finding out more about it an maybe even finding out how old it is

  26. Fletch poppi Says:

    It is perfectly fine to collect nazi stuff, its very historical and interesting. It must be taught and preserved as to prevent it from ever occurring again.

  27. ron mancuso Says:

    too much complains about nazi memorabilia ‘ i’m not a neo- nazi but one thing i can tell ‘ i’m very proud of my collection of daggers ‘ helmets ‘ tunics ‘ visor caps and nazi flags well displayed in my bedroom walls all of them from the ww2 era and my object of more value ‘ a large portrait of Adolf Hitler that i bought in Europe a few years back now resting in a frame . these days ‘ we have to worry more about isis and the islamic state and let people collect whatever they want . we are , just collectors .

  28. Roxanne M Says:

    Lots of good information in the article. Never saw the swastika as 4Ls. My Dad would never talk much about his experience in Germany. He had the horrific job of following Hitler and digging up mass graves and identifying the bodies as best they could.

  29. Mike Says:

    First of all the swastika is an ancient symbol and is still widely used in Asia today. It decorates many buildings. Secondly, those, who truly educate themselves, will know that the swastika or items related to national socialist Germany have nothing to do with hate. Get past the propaganda and learn true history.

  30. Erik Says:

    I believe, based on all the comments left about this topic, that a vast majority of people realize that a symbol is just that, a symbol. An educated person can differentiate between the legitimate use of a symbol, like the swastika, in a historical or collectors reference. As opposed to those who use a symbol for hatred and injustice. I am also a military collector with a wide range of items including WWII German/Nazi items.

  31. Ben Del Gado Says:

    From what I have read this symbol shows the direction that the stars in the the heavens rotate around the north star. Counterclockwise around the north star.
    I have taken time exposures of the north star and it is true. also , a time exposure will record any shooting stars as a streak of light on film cameras.

  32. Antony Says:

    People can collect what they want, why is it ok too collect USSR war iteams when more people died under the hammer and sickle? Why? Because we have this evil racist anti German/Nazi propaganda, which is manly cooked up from hollywood and other very “rich” people. So many films each year about the “nazis” always trying too install hatred towards Germany. Which is why we have articles like this.

  33. kevin pagden Says:

    I have been collecting Hitler associated war medals for about two years,to me they are pieces of a part of history that should not be forgotten,my medals were awarded to brave men who went through hell to win them,so german american, british russian etc does not matter,the german soldiers were fighting for the wrong reasons but a brave soldier is a brave soldier no matter whose side he was on.

  34. michael dietrich Says:

    someone told me that the US army was passing the swatiztka flag out after americans won the war to the troops we had a heated argument about this i just want to know is this true or did american troops just go around taking souvineers and that flag was just lying about

  35. Sheena Says:

    This is a family heirloom …it’s solid walnut…came from a officers club in Germany..my grandfather was a colonel…i didn’t like Hitler or his followers this is a piece of history..nothing more nothing less…im not a Nazi it was passed on….

  36. Cora Says:

    I have an enameled bracelet from the 1930s that belonged to my great-grandmother. She was a single mother of four who lived in dire poverty during the 1920s and 1930s. The Nazis awarded her the cross of honour of the German mother (which ended up with my aunt and was lost after her death) and sent her on a cruise with the Nazi holiday organisation Kraft durch Freude, which was probably the only holiday she ever had in her life. The bracelet is a memento of that cruise. It’s an interesting design with the name of the cruise ship spelled out in enamled semaphore flags with the flag of the shipping company on one end and the swastika flag on the other. The swastika is tiny, maybe 3 millimetres across.

    I would never wear that bracelet in public and displaying the swastika is illegal in Germany anyway. But I’m not going to throw away the only memento I have of a great-grandmother I never met (she died much too early after being run over by a motorcycle in 1949) either. It is currently displayed in a case in my home, together with an East German worker’s medal that belonged to my great-aunt.

    What is more, this little bracelet and the story behind it are a powerful reminder just how skilled the Nazis were at capturing the hearts and minds of so many people. Because the motherhood medal and the free cruise, complete with souvenir bracelet, made my great-grandmother so grateful that she never asked questions, not even when her wayward world-travelling husband, my great-grandfather, who’d been periodically in contact with the family, vanished for good in 1939. The official story told in the family is that he died in a shipwreck. This is demonstrably false, because there was no shipwreck at the time. The most likely theory, supported by a nephew who claimed to have received a letter from him from prison, is that the Nazis arrested him upon his return to Germany in 1939 and that he did not survive.

  37. Roland Says:

    ‘One thing that then always has left me wondering is how the main stream attitude is “oh how terrible the Nazis was”, but when it comes to Soviet it is often an almost romantic twist to it. Why isn’t hammer and sickle frowned upon like the swastika?’ Hollywood, MND, Hollywood.

  38. Jim Young Says:

    I have been collecting Nazi, and Confederate and Soviet along with Civil War items for years. People who are interested in history which the liberal idiots don’t teach anymore are the ones who collect. The Neo Nazis if anything buy modern items not historical. Only libtards would think that we are trying to revive the Third Reich.

  39. Scott L Pettyjohn Says:

    Jim Young, how sad that you don’t recognize in your own attitude and language the very same fundamental building blocks of intolerance that allowed Nazi culture to take hold, i.e., name calling, and portraying an entire class of people as having less intelligence than the rest of “us.”
    Nowhere in these comments do I see anyone, liberal or otherwise, advocating for the hiding or destruction of historical items… Quite the opposite. We all recognize the necessity of preserving and sharing our history, the good, the bad, and the truly horrific so that we can learn the hows and whys of these self-inflicted tragedies, and become better people.
    I own a personally signed Hermann Goering calling card. I did not purposefully collect it, but it found it’s way into my hands. Every time I look at it, I am filled with Anger that such an evil man proudly printed, signed and gave these cards away. I am also filled with Anguish for the lives he extinguished, their words never written, their art never seen, their music never heard and their songs never sung.
    It is only a small white card that would ultimately never be missed, yet I have never considered destroying it. And although I am 2 generations removed from those who fought in WW2, my liberal educators made sure I learned the causes of the war, Hitler’s vile ideology, the horrors of the battlefield, and the lasting scars left by it’s messy end. When I show my singular piece of Nazi memorabilia to others, most of whom have never, and will never touch such a physical manifestation of pure evil, I feel it is my duty to give context to the EVIL that infects every molecule of that card. Someday I will most likely donate it to a Holocaust museum. I believe that only the survivors of that horror have the right to preserve or destroy the detritus of the Nazi regime.

  40. Wendy Says:

    Well said Scott Pettyjohn!

  41. DAVE Says:

    This is such a shame that Hitler stole the swastika something that DIDNT BELONG to his
    hate party.
    I like what the swastika originally stood for it was almost the international peace sign. I also like to 4 L idea. I am getting some DONT WORRY CLUB coins off ebay. I like the way they use the swastika,this is so cool . I also like the modern world peace sign that the HIPPIES got going. I wear my hair long with tie dye and have many examples of the peace sign made in hippie jewelry with dark wood beads to replicate the hippie era .

  42. Mark A Says:

    Anyone-ANYONE in this time period who needs a physical item to “remind them of the evils of the Nazi regime” should probably be collecting Alzheimer medication, rather than Nazi memorabilia. Think of that word – memorabilia – and what is means. It is to remind us of what the item was used for. Right now, as well as 200, 300, 500 years from now, these items will have real historical value to a legitimate museum. But these “historians” are not collecting these items for historical purposes, they are for personal purposes. It reminds me of art collectors who salt away stolen art items to “preserve them for future generations”. If you truly want these items to remind people of their historical significance, donate them to a publicly accessible organization, to allow actual people to see them, rather than sitting in your basement, and fondling your “precious”.
    As for the swastika, we didn’t “lose” anything – it’s just a visual symbol, and a backwards one at that. The far eastern swastika, the “10,00 year old” symbol, had leftward rotating arms, not the rightward rotation of the Nazi party symbol. And the beneficent concepts behind this are still valid – only the symbol has been co-opted. All you lost was a logo, so get over it.
    I am a veteran, as was my father, who fought in the European theater. If I had found anything Nazi related in his sad collection of crap when I cleaned out his apartment after he died, it would have made me think just a little less of him, but at least it was HIS history – you know, HIS-story. However, it wasn’t MY story, and that crap would have gone where it belongs-right in the dung pile of history. As far as people buying this stuff? Well, as an American, it’s absolutely your right, but ask yourself – why do you hide it away when company comes over?

  43. Sara collins Says:

    Hi I have found a bronze nazi printing plate in my dads loft well I think that’s what it is I’m not a 100% sure what is I was just after a bit of advice please if anyone can help me many thanks Sara from England

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