The Nazi Hermann Göring, who died 68 years ago, was in the news again this week. The reason: a Paris auction of 40 Nazi artifacts which included Göring’s passport. The auction, which had been scheduled to be held on April 26, has been called off due to pressure from several Jewish and anti-racism groups as well as France’s Minister of Culture, Aurelie Filippetti. She described the auction as ’morally reprehensible’ and on her instigation the body which oversees all auctions held on French territory (C.V.V – Conseil des Ventes Volontaires) strongly advised the auction house – Vermont de Pas – not to go ahead with selling the objects.
Said Laudine de Pas, co-owner of the Vermont de Pas Auction House: “It was not our goal to stir a scandal. We were pitching this as part of the responsibility to remember – but in no way to shock or create a polemic.” Also among the items were a wooden chest decorated with Swastikas which had been given to Adolf Hitler as a birthday gift, a mat decorated with the Nazi eagle and bearing Hitler’s initials, and a 17th century manuscript which had been a gift to Göring in 1935. Ms de Pas also spoke of the ‘political pressure’ which had been put on them and of how they had received several ‘insulting’ phone calls and e-mails. A spokesperson for CRIF (Conseil Repréresentative des Institutions Juives de France) the French affiliate of the World Jewish Congress spoke of how the sale of such Nazi artifacts harmed ‘the memory of the victims of Nazi barbarity’ and that the trading in such things gave them an ‘unhealthy symbolic value that resembles cynicism and a form of moral indecency’.
Ms de Pas was auctioning the objects on behalf of who: who was the seller? Ah-ha! The sellers have not been named. Ms de Pas only said that they were the possessions of four people, some of them being former French soldiers or their relatives. How did the soldiers get hold of them? Again – Ah-ha! They had looted Hitler’s Bavarian Alps retreat – the Berghof – when the French Army reached it in May 1945, WW2 having ended and Hitler having shot himself to death.