Belfast Telegraph

Sale of Hitler's dinner set at Belfast auction 'in very poor taste'

Historically rare Third Reich Deutsche Reichsbahn tablecloth
Historically rare Third Reich Deutsche Reichsbahn tablecloth
Silver cutlery
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A decision to auction a dinner set in Belfast that belonged to Adolf Hitler has been blasted as "morally reprehensible".

The controversial items were part of a railway dining carriage presented to the dictator by the Deutsche Reichsbahn (the German national railway at the time) on his 50th birthday.

They include a table cloth and plates featuring swastikas, napkins and a silver cutlery set.

Owned by a local collector, they are valued at £20,000 and are due to go under the hammer at Bloomfield Auctions tomorrow evening.

Selling memorabilia linked to the Holocaust is illegal in Germany, France and Austria but remains legal in the UK.

Dr Katy Radford is from the Institute for Conflict Research in Belfast. Her mother escaped the Holocaust as a child after losing six family members in a Nazi concentration camp.

She said selling the artefacts for profit was indefensible.

"I think it's in very poor taste," she said.

"There's huge lessons for our own community about how we commodify different aspects of our own conflict.

"Some see it as trauma tourism and others as social history."

She added: "I work a lot with people in Poland to look at the impact of the Holocaust.

"It saddens me when I see Nazi memorabilia being bought to be brought back to Northern Ireland.

"It's not dignified or helpful in building peace.

"Once you put something like this up for sale you're saying, 'I'd like to make as much money from this as possible'.

"It's morally reprehensible they want to do it."

Karl Bennett is managing director and auctioneer at Bloomfield Auctions, and said the items had historical value and were not intended to be sold to Nazi sympathisers.

"I understand that for some it can be deemed offensive while others appreciate the historical value of it all," he said.

"It's not sympathisers who collect this type of stuff.

"It's generally people who appreciate the historical value, and that dark periods like 1939-45 should never be forgotten about.

"We're hoping pieces like this can go to a museum or another collector who appreciates the historical value."

In 2017, Whyte's auction house in Dublin defended its right to sell Nazi memorabilia.

Oliver Sears - the son of a Holocaust survivor who owns a neighbouring art gallery -called that sale "nauseating" at the time.

However, auctioneer Ian Whyte said the items in that sale were of historical interest.

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