|Sun June 29 2014 17:58:22|
Historic or Offensive? EBay Bans Nazi Goering Mercedes
By: Julia Wilkinson
There's sometimes a fine line between what is considered an important piece of history and what some consider downright offensive. One of these situations may exist with eBay prohibiting the auction of a 1941 Mercedes Benz 540K Cabriolet B that was owned by Hitler henchman Hermann Goering.
The car is now being restored by High Velocity Classics and European Cars of Boca Raton, Fla., and High Velocity Classics general manager Steven Saffer worries the auto will not be able to get high-profile attention, according to an article in the Sun-Sentinel.
Saffer, who is Jewish, estimated that once restored, the car would be worth some $5-$7 million dollars. His wish was that "a group of wealthy Jews will be interested in purchasing it for display in a museum such as Yad Vashem in Jerusalem," he told the Sentinel, which noted that Hitler's Grosser Mercedes is on display at a Canadian war museum.
But what Saffer sees as history, eBay sees as offensive. "eBay has policies that prohibit the sale of offensive materials and content, including Nazi-related items," eBay spokesman Ryan Moore said in an email to the Sentinel.
Of course, eBay has policies that prohibit many types of items, including "Offensive material – examples include ethnically or racially offensive material and Nazi memorabilia." However, some Nazi-related items are allowed for sale, such as:
- Stamps, letters, and envelopes displaying Nazi postmarks
- Currency issued by the Nazi German government, including military scripts
- Items that have a swastika that are not related to Nazi Germany (such as good luck charms, Native American blankets, Buddhist sculptures)
- Replica or novelty stamps or currency of Nazi Germany (must comply with the currency and stamp policies) even if they contain images of swastikas or German leaders
A recent stamp auction featuring Hitler's profile, and a Tunis Nazi stamp (asking price $1299.99 or Best Offer) were among those in a lot for sale on the site as part of these types of items which are exceptions from the rest of the eBay Nazi item policy.
Some questions arise in my mind are, would most people be offended by the sale of this German car (which was apparently repainted green and with a star upon its capture at the end of World War II by the American Army), or would it not matter to them? Would it depend on how the proceeds of the sale were used - such as, as Saffer said - for display in a Holocaust museum?
But one can't control who would be the winning bidder and what they would do with the historic vehicle.
Still, sometimes which items are prohibited and which aren't don't seem to make sense; why are the stamps OK but other items not? Why do some vegetarians wear leather? And will the descendants of the art pilfered by the Nazis - which I blogged about a short while ago - ever really see their treasures returned to them?
There were some interesting responses on that blog post, by the way, such as from one dealer who sought to have such items go to nonprofits or museums.
What do you think? Would the auction of this car be offensive to you? Do you think the list of prohibited items on online selling sites such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy make sense, or what would you change about them? Post a comment here!