OPERATORS of an antiques fair have been slammed after vile Nazi military paraphernalia was openly displayed by a vendor.

Shocked locals say they were horrified to see items including an Iron Cross, Swastika armbands and decorative eagles from soldiers’ uniforms for sale at the busy JAC Fairs event at Glasgow Club Bellahouston.

Jewish community leaders have today criticised organisers for allowing the memorabilia to be sold, warning that the Third Reich insignia could have caused ‘extreme distress’ to families of Holocaust survivors.

The Glasgow Times received several complaints from members of the public who attended the event on February 18.

One source, a 32-year-old from the Southside of the city, said: “I am from a minority background myself, so I know what it is like to face persecution. I was absolutely horrified by what I saw on this stall. Everyone knows what the Nazi party and their symbols stand for and represent, so for these to be openly shown at an event where children were present was completely wrong.

“This person should never have been given permission to act as a vendor and it is up to organisers to make sure what is for sale at their events are suitable and don’t cause offence.”

Glasgow Times: Nazi military paraphernalia was openly displayed by a vendor.Nazi military paraphernalia was openly displayed by a vendor. (Image: Supplied)

Another source, who was collecting her daughter from a gym group, added: “The stall was in quite a prominent position and one of the first I spotted as I entered the fair. I just could not believe what I was seeing, hateful items being brazenly displayed for anyone to purchase.

“I find it appalling that anyone would think it appropriate. As soon as I saw it, I walked out in disgust. It’s totally unacceptable and it upset quite a few people on the day.”

The sale of Nazi memorabilia is strictly prohibited in parts of Europe although it is not a criminal offence to sell or own it in the UK.

Thomas Weber, a university historian and leading expert on Hitler’s brutal regime, says the items were likely to have been brought back to British shores by soldiers who fought in the Second World War.

Glasgow Times: Thomas WeberThomas Weber (Image: Supplied)

He explained: “I would imagine that these are items that British servicemen took from Germany in 1945 and were kind of physical object that symbolise that the war was won, that National Socialism had been defeated and that people had risked their lives to make that happen.

“This is of course speculation, and I cannot exclude the possibility that the pieces on display were from the collection of a Nazi sympathizer. The tricky question becomes what the most ethical thing is to do with them as the generation of the servicemen who defeated Hitler pass away. Is it ethical to sell them or should they be given to a museum or archive?

“I believe these questions are not easy to answer as they might appear at first sight, even though I appreciate the horror felt by some of the people who visited the fair and what they witnessed.”

The Glasgow Times asked Mr Weber to examine the items that were on display and he uncovered some interesting detail about their origins.

He added: “The DAF item is from the Deutsche Arbeitsfront and the Luftschutz item is probably the armband of a warden in an air shelter. Below it lies another item from the German Labour Front.

Glasgow Times:

“The Dutch/Flemish guide is kind of self-explanatory but might indicate that I am right with my speculation that the items come from a British serviceman who saw action in WWII and then took items from Nazi Germany back home. The black cross is an Iron Cross, and the eagles are probably all from Nazi uniforms.

“From an academic point of view, I personally would be interested to see the framed piece of paper. This appears to be the letterhead of the regional office of the national HQ of a Nazi organization, possibly from Hannover or Hamburg.”

Mr Weber says items of this nature continue to pose a difficult ethical and moral dilemma.

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He added: “The challenge is to make sure that people still feel comfortable to come forward with materials they find in the possessions of their parents or grandparents once they pass away.

“There has been a lot of unique historical material that sheds new light on WWII, the Holocaust and the Third Reich that has come to the light in recent years, as we live at a time at which people who lived still as adults through WWII have sadly passed away. Their descendants now face the choice what to do with that material and that is often difficult when it is of this nature.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities and the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council said that while deeply offensive, destroying material such as that on sale at the fair also risks diminishing the horrific nature and accurate historical record of the Nazi atrocities.

They added: “Although removing the physical historical record of Nazi genocide from public consciousness risks playing into the hands of those who would deny history, sadly collectors and people who buy such items often have very suspect motives.

“The display itself can also cause extreme offence and distress to the victims of that persecution, so at a time when antisemitism, islamophobia, and other racist rhetoric are at an all-time high following the Hamas pogrom on 7 October, we would urge the organisers to think again."

A spokesperson for Glasgow Life, who operate the venue where the fair was held, said: “We had not been told of the proposed sale of Nazi memorabilia at the fair. We have already made the event operator aware of the complaints we’ve received and asked them to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Glasgow Times: Glasgow Club Bellahouston.Glasgow Club Bellahouston. (Image: Colin Mearns)

A spokesperson for JAC Fairs asked people attending any of its events to make them aware of any offensive items on display.

They added: “Militaria from all over the world is sold at antiques fairs and antiques centres throughout the UK.

“Although JAC Fairs makes every effort to ensure stallholders do not sell items that may cause offence, we strongly advise if an item does cause offence, make it known to us on the day so that we can take appropriate action where required. In no way do we endorse the Nazi regime."