Offensive headgear removed from shop window

February 4, 2016 by Keren Cook
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A helmet bearing  a Nazi swastika has been removed from a shop window in Invercargill, New Zealand.

The South Island city [pop. 53,000] is an unlikely destination to be showcasing Nazi memorabilia.


A hat similar to the on sale

The shop owner said he was unaware the hat featured a swastika and had since removed the hat from the window earlier this week.

This situation has prompted Jewish leaders and the Human Rights Commission to speak out, saying – the sale of such items is deplorable and distressing.

The shop owner confirmed earlier this week that he had been away when the hat was placed in the window on display. He said that the hat was not an original – rather a replica, and that it had come from a wholesaler. The primary customers for items like these were usually historical collectors, he says.

World War II-related items, including the hat, would remain on sale at the shop despite the fact that members of the community found it distressing.

Susan Devoy

Dame Susan Devoy

In a statement, Human Rights Commission Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy denoted the decision to sell such items.

She told J-Wire: “While they do not fall under the Human Rights Act, the Nazi swastika is an icon of hatred and genocide, it’s not a fashion icon.

“Understanding the horrors of the Holocaust is important if we are to learn from the past. However, selling replica Nazi memorabilia is about making money.”

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman said selling Nazi memorabilia was not illegal in New Zealand, but that didn’t mean it was appropriate.

“Its very disappointing people are making money out of other people’s suffering,” he said.

“Many New Zealanders fought and died in overthrowing that regime. Having it (the hat) prominently displayed makes people think this sort of behaviour is acceptable,” says Goodman.

Inge Wolf, Director of the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand also disapproved the sale of such items.

“The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand obviously finds it deplorable and distressing that people wish to trade, profit from and collect items that represent a regime that espoused race hatred and anti-Semitism,” she said.

This is not the first time that Nazi memorabilia has been offered up for sale in shop windows. In August last year, Rotorua retailer Walter Dobbs was defiant over selling a swastika flag from his shop window saying he was exercising his freedom of choice, despite it offending some people.

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