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Nazi, Holocaust Items Going to Auction

There's a lot to be said for the adage: "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." It applies to everyone from educators to the military. Make a mistake, remember it and avoid it in the future. It's a seemingly simple principle that is all too often forgotten.

I'd have to believe no one is more acutely aware of that than today's Jews. For them, the Germany of the 1930s and '40s is just as recent today as it was half a century ago. Then, entire nations were politically lulled into the belief that the "state" would protect them and knew what was best. That evolved into a carefully orchestrated fear of Jews, eventual hate mongering and, of course, the Holocaust.

I say "of course" because global knowledge of the planned mass extermination of an entire religion is all but a given. Sadly, some refuse to accept or acknowledge reality. They can deny it ad infinitum, but they're overlooking one indisputable fact — evidence.

The one thing the German government, and especially the Nazis, was extraordinarily good at was record keeping. Documentation of virtually everything was a given, so much so that toward the end of the war, it was humanly impossible to even make a dent in destroying papers and proof of atrocities.

Because of that evidence, Germans continue to live with reminders of their actions virtually everywhere. Many uniforms and memorabilia of that era still exist in Europe, including coins and currency from the days of Hitler. But what those artifacts represent is a very sensitive subject. At collectible shows in Germany, no swastikas can be visible. Even small coins or currency have those symbols covered when on display.

Not so in the United States. Most any Nazi-era item can be displayed, traded or sold. At many gun or knife shows, you'll regularly see German pistols or bayonets. Sometimes, even the occasional Nazi military medal is offered. What's rarely seen are the derisive and disturbing items that go to the heart of Nazi intent — reminders of the actual exterminations.

That's often where David Kols, president of Regency-Superior Auctions, comes in. With some frequency, his auctions include a large selection of rare stamps, coins and autographs. Additionally, they include a variety of objects relating to the Holocaust.

Exactly what Judaica items may be contained is always different. That's understandable considering that each is not only unique, but it often was connected to just one individual. Each is equally disturbing in its own way and always offers its own personal history lesson.

In an upcoming auction to be held on Oct. 2 in Beverly Hills, Calif., the Regency/Superior sale will include roughly 60 items that lay bare the deep impact that the Nazi master plan had for the world. Among these are anti-Semitic postcards that depict Jews as the scourge of Europe and the cause of so many problems. Speaking directly to the dire situation that had been created, there are other materials like government documents denoting specific people as Jews, signs proclaiming establishments as owned by Jews, signs denoting that a certain area is "Jew Free," and Nazi passes that allowed limited travel for work outside of Jewish ghettos.

Two lots in the auction reflect the obvious terror of the time. One contains two pieces of German inflation currency overprinted with a derogatory cartoon of a Jew, and the copy suggests that they were the root of Germany's monetary crisis. These were used to spur even moderates to distrust and eventually disdain Jews — allowing little public resistance to their annihilation.

The second lot is three innocent-looking metal tags. Each tag clips together with an attached piece of metal that contains two Jewish stars. The tags were actually luggage clips that were affixed to the bags of Jews being shipped to concentration camps. The intent was to reassure those being sent to their deaths that they were merely being resettled and would get their bags back upon arrival at their new home. In fact, the bags were then confiscated, opened and all property was taken.

As I said, the items are both disturbing and historic. I asked Kols, who is a Jew, about that once. He explained that most of the artifacts are purchased by Holocaust museums that display them. Their intent is to educate and remind all who see them that the evidence of what happened is all too real. More importantly, if it is forgotten, it can happen again. As Jews now say, "Never again."

For more information, call 800-782-0066 or log onto RegencySuperior.com. Internet bidding will be available on the day of the sale.

To find out more about Peter Rexford and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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