By Hanan Greenwood and Yori Yalon
(JNS) Jewish leaders and Holocaust survivors expressed outrage Monday after an auction house in Jerusalem offered for sale a set of needle stamps used by Nazis during World War II to tattoo numbers on the arms of Jewish prisoners at the Auschwitz extermination camp.
“How can it be that the world is about to mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht—the Night of Broken Glass—yet Tzolman’s Auction is looking to profit from the sale of stamps used by Nazis?” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association.
Margolin wrote a letter to Israeli Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, calling on him to put an end to the “despicable sale.”
“I appeal to you personally to do everything in your power to prevent the humiliation of the victims and the sale of stamps that were used to burn the arms of millions of European Jews,” he wrote. “The trade of such sensitive items cannot be allowed.”
Eighty-nine-year-old old Naftali First, who survived Auschwitz, also condemned the move.
“The stamps belong at Yad Vashem [Holocaust museum], not in private hands,” he said.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan concurred, saying that at the museum, “historical items are preserved, researched and serve as historical evidence for researchers and the general public.”
Dayan also stressed that Yad Vashem opposed the sale of such items both because it was “morally wrong” and because it encouraged further sale and even counterfeiting of Nazi memorabilia.
Tzolman’s Auction said in a statement that it “has been working for many years to sell Judaica and collectibles in order to preserve the heritage of Israel and Judaism. The same is true of items that survived the terrible inferno. The items in question garnered great interest and extensive public discourse and preserve the memory of the Holocaust.”
The auction house further said that it was trying to sell the items to an individual who would then donate them to a Holocaust museum. It also pointed out that the media was outraged only because the auction house had made the sale public.
Tzolman’s Auction said the stamps were “extremely rare” and “unmatched in historical significance,” estimating that they would sell for $30,000-$40,000. Commission on the items is 25 percent.
The auction house is also offering for sale the Nazis’ marketing and operation booklets, which were made by the Aesculap company.
This article was first published by Israel Hayom.