An Israeli court has suspended the auction of tattoo tools said to have been used to brand inmates at Auschwitz following condemnation from Holocaust survivors. The items had been expected to sell for thousands of dollars.
Described by auctioneer Meir Tzolman as “a shocking and extremely rare museum item of unparalleled historical significance,” the set comprised eight small steel stamps and an instruction manual from the Nazi German manufacturer.
Bidding had reached $3,400 on Wednesday before Tel Aviv District Court granted a request by Holocaust survivors to freeze the sale of the gruesome relics. A hearing will take place on November 16 to determine whether the bidding should go ahead for the items, said to have an estimated sale value of up to $40,000.
The online listing, now shown as suspended, describes the horrific tattooing of the concentration camp’s inmates as evidence that the Nazis “were not satisfied with regular registration,” instead exhibiting “unparalleled sadism, while dehumanizing the victims” to brand their prisoners “so that no Jew could escape.”
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The auctioneer, who was set to get 25% commission from the sale, also noted that the item had a certificate of authenticity attached.
Press officer for the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, Pawel Sawicki, however, told Reuters that if the stamps were indeed genuine, “then the very fact that such unique historical items are put up for auction – and not given to an institution that commemorates the victims and educates about the tragedy of Auschwitz – deserves the words of protest and condemnation.”
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The collection was also described as extremely rare by the auction house, which said it is just the third of its kind known to still exist. One kit is held at the Military Medical Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and another at the Auschwitz Museum, the auctioneer said.
More than 1.1 million people died at the Auschwitz camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, the majority of whom were Jews. Polish civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, and Roma people were also among those who perished there.
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