Nazi flags for sale at Nelson auction house cause offence

A South Island business selling Nazi flags has remained tight-lipped when asked why it was profiting from memorabilia about the infamous regime.

Lipscombe Auction House in Nelson has three flags emblazoned with the Nazi swastika for sale in its show room.

Each has online auction bids of about $20 to $25 placed on them so far.

When contacted, the auction house said it didn’t want to comment on the flags.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” a staff member said when advised that a reader had contacted the Herald, saying they were offended by the flags.

The reader told the Herald they were “very concerned and disturbed” by the damage that could be caused by promoting Nazi memorabilia.

“It is highly relevant within Aotearoa today after the March 15, 2019, terror attacks, and the ideology that fuelled the attacks, which sadly resulted in the tragic deaths of 51 innocent people and the wounding of 40 others,” the reader said.

“While it is not against the law in New Zealand, it is deeply offensive to the Jewish community within New Zealand and globally.”

One of the three German flags emblazoned with swastikas.
One of the three German flags emblazoned with swastikas.

New Zealand Jewish Council spokeswoman Juliet Moses said she recognised there was no law banning the sale of Nazi memorabilia, and some people collected the items as a matter of historical interest or record.

But the flags were also offensive to many Kiwis.

“It is highly disturbing for a range of New Zealanders. The Jewish community finds it very disturbing and so do many Kiwis, some of whom would have lost family members fighting the Nazis,” she said.

Moses said the flags would also likely cause hurt to the families of those killed and wounded in the horrific attack on the Christchurch mosques last year.

“I just hope the people who are selling them and the people who eventually end up buying them don’t use them to glorify the regime and do put them in the appropriate context and use them in the appropriate context,” she said.

Lipscombe Auction House gave little description about the flags on its business page.

It is unclear if they are genuine historical flags from Germany or Nazi memorabilia created afterwards.

Lipscombe Auction House in Nelson is selling Nazi flags. But others have criticised the auction, saying the sale of the flags helps promote hatred in New Zealand.
Lipscombe Auction House in Nelson is selling Nazi flags. But others have criticised the auction, saying the sale of the flags helps promote hatred in New Zealand.

Moses said while military gear from World War II might hold interest to collectors and researchers, it was hard to see the value in Nazi flags.

“These are just flags emblazoned with swastikas – they are simply emblematic of the Nazi regime. It is hard to attach any other significance or value to them,” she said.

“Even more so if they are not historical.”

Online auction company Trade Me is among companies that have banned most Nazi items from being sold on its website.

“Trade Me does not support any hateful or intolerant ideologies,” the company’s website states.

“You cannot list items that, either in themselves or by description, promote or glorify racial, sexual, religious or other intolerance, hatred or violence, or that promote organisations with such views,” it said.

That included historical or reproduced Nazi uniforms, weapons, war medals or items once owned by Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis.

Some items were permitted, however. These included World War II military models with Nazi symbol, stamps and envelopes bearing Nazi postmarks and Nazi-issued travel documents.

The website introduced strict guidelines and regulations after a Nelson man tried to sell his amputated leg in 2006.

The listing was placed on 81 New Zealanders’ watchlists before removal.

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