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WW2 German SS Honour /  Totenkopf Ring
WW2 German SS Honour / Totenkopf Ring

Third Reich / WW2 German Era Militaria


WW2 German era militaria seems to have become a contentious field of collecting in recent times.


Emotively fuelled media stories tend to ignore the nuances of how and why museums and individual collectors choose to acquire such items. This serves to perpetuate simplistic and ill-deserved stereotypes and defame many decent historians and collectors.


The assumption that acquiring and trading in WW2 German era items somehow makes a person an extremist, revisionist or a sympathiser or enabler of such ideals is quite troubling, offensive and even defamatory.


By all means go after extremists of all forms, but some courtesy and respect needs to be extended to those who simply collect and study WW2 era items innocently and free of any political or revisionist intent.


Sabre will from time to time feature Third Reich era militaria and does so without making any political or revisionist statements whatsoever. To us they are historical artefacts like those associated with other past movements. As rare historical artefacts they are also genuinely collectable pieces for public and private museums.


Those who collect and study historical artefacts should not automatically and simplistically become associated with the politics associated with those items. By such flawed logic someone possessing coins featuring the Roman Emperor Nero must be OK with throwing people to the lions in an arena. It’s highly likely that they are not. It’s equally absurd to assume WW2 German items in a collection indicate or create extremist tendencies.


Many collectors will acquire Third Reich militaria as war trophies captured by victorious allied troops. In such instances these were actually a symbol of victory in WW2 over Fascism and National Socialism. Australian, US and Soviet troops were notorious souvenir hunters, and thus acquired quite a lot of Third Reich booty ranging from simple badges and helmets to Adolf Hitler’s personal silverware. The back stories of these veterans and their victory is linked to such artefacts as legitimate war trophies.


As part of any general WW2 collection a museum or private collector will invariably have items featured from many the nationalities involved. This includes Germany. It does not mean that they suddenly take onboard the ideologies of that nation at that time, or support or empower those who do.


I possess in my own personal collection a number of WW2 Japanese swords taken as war trophies. My Grandfather was a Changi survivor who as a POW suffered greatly at the hands of Imperial Japan. I am therefore never going to be sympathetic to the ideals of Imperial Japan. The swords that I possess are just part of the history of WW2, not an indicator that I am a Japanese Imperialist / Nationalist. In the same manner, my possession of WW2 German items brought back by relatives from WW2 does not make me sympathetic to the ideals of Nazi Germany. They are just wartime artefacts.


By the logic of some seeking to tar all collectors with the same brush, anyone possessing Roman, Egyptian, Norman or even 20th Century Soviet artefacts would be deemed equally sinister. Many historical empires and movements are associated with unforgivable atrocities.


Just because someone collects and studies WW2 era artefacts does not mean that they are also in possession of the ideologies. Someone can feature all nationalities in their study and collection of WW2 era items and still be completely free of extremist and revisionist ideals.


As the famous musician, lead singer of the band Motorhead and prolific collector of WW2 artefacts Lemmy Kilminster once said:


“I only collect the stuff. I didn’t collect the ideas.”


WW2 German SS Leader's Dagger
WW2 German SS Leader's Dagger

WW2 German Knight's Cross of The Iron Cross
WW2 German Knight's Cross of The Iron Cross