Surely, it’s just history?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it",

George Santayana

The hysteria over certain WW2 artefacts, even reproductions of them, sometimes seems so childish.

We have recently had some online auction sites get quite sanctimonious about items of WW2 German militaria. This is their right of course, as their platform is ‘ their bat and their ball’ so to speak to offer or refuse as they like.

It does however beg the question, what good does it do anyone to block those genuinely interested in collecting militaria from acquiring WW2 German items as well? It’s not as if someone was going to use that museum quality replica of Grand Admiral Doenitz’s visor cap to raise a fascist army and seize control of the state now is it?

By all means go after real neo fascists, but to assume political motivations are held by collectors is just insulting, offensive and when fingers are pointed at individuals potentially a form of defamation. Many collectors are actually former military folk who signed on to fight actual extremists with more than a keyboard.

Yes, the Third Reich was evil and yes glorification of the politics and extremist ideologies of that era needs to be averted at all cost, but militaria hobbyists are hardly likely to be gathering en-masse in their little man-caves to plot the rise of the 4th Reich.

Quite the contrary in fact as many militaria enthusiasts are either former military people, or keen military historians who know all too well the dangers of forgetting the past as a forerunner to it being repeated.

Items of German WW2 militaria can form perfectly legitimate parts of any general WW2 collection be it in a private or public museum. I have items captured by my relatives at Tobruk and El Alamein, as do many collectors. It’s part of our military history, and has tangible links to the individuals who fought and defeated the real Nazis.

A fanatic who chooses to decorate their house as the Reich Chancellery with banners, flaming cauldrons and a bust of Hitler is quite the fringe-dwelling exception, yet I fear it’s for that irrational stereotype that innocent collectors are marginalised. The vast majority study and display their history in a much broader and more harmless context.

To take action against actual extremist groups, yes of course, but to take action against hobby collectors just seems so pointless and useless.

It appears to be not much more than a fashionable virtue signal, as if the sentiment was a genuine one, then the Communist icons such as Hammers and Sickles would attract similar treatment, as many millions were killed and persecuted under those banners. One could argue that in authoritarian nations like China, that they still are.

As Lemmy from Motorhead, a WW2 collector, once famously said to a music journalist about collecting historic WW2 artefacts – “you can collect the stuff and not the ideas”.

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