St. Jacobs Antiques Market in Waterloo, Ontario has withdrawn a Nazi uniform from its marketplace in response to critique from a Jewish human rights group. The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) had earlier denounced the sale of the item and called for its cessation.
FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt shared in a press statement, “While selling or displaying Nazi memorabilia isn’t illegal, profiting from items associated with the genocide of six million Jews and countless others defies good conscience.” Levitt proposed that the uniform, instead of being on sale, should be featured in an educational environment to raise awareness about World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust.
The uniform, categorized as a “extremely rare” Nazi political tunic, was listed for $6,500. The organization emailed its concerns to the marketplace following this discovery.
Despite stating they don’t endorse Nazism, and emphasizing the need for education about the “horrific past,” St. Jacobs Antiques Market had initially kept the uniform on display. However, after continued conversations, the market owners confirmed to media that the contentious uniform would indeed be removed.
The marketplace outlined in subsequent emails that it was selling the uniform on a consignment basis for another vendor. They further expressed their intention to remove any disquiet by stating they never intended to cause offence and sincerely apologised to the Jewish community. They voiced hope for future collaborations with relevant institutions to avoid such incidents.
The uniform has since been confirmed to be no longer on display.
Daniel Panneton, FSWC’s Director of Allyship and Engagement, called the market’s response a positive development, and expressed his hope that selling Nazi memorabilia would not be repeated. This isn’t the first instance of an antique shop in the region facing backlash for selling Nazi memorabilia – a similar incident occurred at nearby Market Road Antiques in 2015.
In light of the incident, both the St. Jacob’s Market District and Market Road Antiques clarified that they are not connected to St. Jacobs Antiques Market, and they adhere to a strict policy against the sale of Nazi memorabilia.
Panneton noted that the future of such World War II artifacts, often kept as “trophies” by veterans and passed onto their descendants, remains uncertain. He suggested that those who find themselves in possession of a Nazi artifact should consider donating it to a human rights or holocaust memorial institution.