By Sean Buchanan
AMSTERDAM, May 29 2015 (IPS)
Huizen, a small town of less than 50,000 inhabitants, has become the first town in the Netherlands to prohibit the sale of Nazi paraphernalia.
The Huizen town council has banned the sale of Nazi objects at the town’s militaria fair, scheduled for Jun. 31, following a petition from the Dutch AFVN/BvA Anti-fascist League. The fair has been running unhindered for 35 years, with an average of five fairs each year.
In March the AFVN/BvA lodged a formal criminal complaint with the police against the organisers of the fair, saying that it was prepared to withdraw the charges if the fair stopped dealing in Nazi objects.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles had earlier endorsed the AFVN/BvA in its struggle to curb the Dutch trade in Nazi objects.
AFVN/BvA spokesman Arthur Graaff, the 66-year-old son of a decorated Dutch resistance fighter who was condemned to death by the Nazis and spent three years in Nazi prisons, praised the town council for its boldness and courage which, he noted, contrasts sharply with the unveiling of a Nazi monument by a mayor in the Dutch town of Schaijk in February.
Huizen’s decision, he noted, “shows that positive moves are possible but there are still about 30 other fairs and large dealers in Nazi gear in the Netherlands, so we’re not done yet.”
Graaff, who pointed out that Germans often use Dutch militaria fairs to sell Nazi items that they cannot legally offer for sale in Germany, said that the Dutch e-bay, marktplaats.nl, plays a major role in the trade in Nazi objects, usually offering some 3,000 items each day.
Historian and journalist Graaff made news in March this year when he discovered the sale on the Dutch e-Bay of a bar of soap which its owners claimed was made from the fat of Jewish people murdered at a Nazi death camp.
The soap, which was removed after Dutch prosecutors blocked its sale, is still being examined by the official Dutch forensic laboratory, the NFI.
At the previous fair in Huizen on Mar. 8, the AFVN/BvA found a copy of Adolf Hitler’s banned ‘Mein Kampf’ on sale at one stand and another stand full of forbidden Nazi-daggers. According to Anti-fascist League, 50 of the 80 exhibitors were selling Nazi objects, including flags, uniform parts, steel helmets, rifles and even shoes that were said to have belonged to a concentration camp prisoner.
Graaff said he hoped that no further trouble would be caused by the ban, although he voiced his concern. “I was threatened with my life after I and others had demonstrated in front of an Amsterdam shop where a copy of the forbidden ‘Mein Kampf’ was on sale. Although the threat didn’t sound very serious, there will always be plenty of offensive reactions after our actions in many sites.”
Edited by Phil Harris