The conundrum of collecting Nazi Era Militaria
There is often a great deal of stigma and controversy around the collecting of any German WW2 Third Reich / Nazi era militaria. The reasons for this whilst obvious, also serve to tar many honest collectors with the same brush as political extremists.
For many the addition of any German WW2 Helmets, Badges, Uniforms and other paraphernalia of the era is simply rounding out a collection of WW2 or general military collectables.
During World War 2 Australian soldiers fought many foes upon different continents, and many items of Nazi era militaria were battlefield captures and souvenirs returned to Australia with soldiers. I have some great items brought back by my Great Uncle Jim who was a rat of Tobruk.
One item is a K98 bayonet captured form an Afrika Korps soldier that we are pretty sure also features in one of his photos in an album that also features knocked out German tanks and the typical pics of Aussie Diggers at work, rest and play.
So for my family such items were more about representing the actions and the deeds of Australian servicemen than anything else.
Yes there are no doubt those who collect these items with a political bent, but in my humble experience the vast majority who have no extreme right wing leanings, just an interest in the Second World War.
One famous collector of German WW2 items was the late Motorhead musician Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister.
He famously said to a music journalist probing him on his massive collection of Third Reich militaria, and inferring that he may have some darker motives (how unusual for a journo to dig for dirt) - “I Only Collect The Stuff, I Didn't Collect The Ideas”.
Many Australian collectors who have some German WW2 militaria in their collections could relate to this.
If you happen to have a WW2 Shin Gunto Japanese Katana in your collection, it does not mean that you are not as outraged by the Japanese treatment of Aussie POW’s, or the massacre of Nanking as the next normal person.
Similarly, featuring Third Reich era artefacts in a collection of militaria does not mean that collector harbours any dark political sentiments or sympathies for those people and ideals behind atrocities.
Just as many official government and military museums will feature items of Nazi era militaria, so too do private collections, so it’s important to extend an open mind and respect for a collector’s motives before leaping to conclusions.