Written by By Staff Writer
The Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an auction house to stop the sale of a kit that reportedly prepared skin for tattooing on inmates at the Auschwitz death camp.
The kit, featuring a prisoner’s shirt and wrist cuffs as well as needles and needlespray, was found by an art collector, Israeli media said.
Its recent sale by an Israeli auction house stirred outrage among Holocaust survivors and members of the public who said it should be considered evidence of the Holocaust.
“It’s very disturbing,” French survivor Dominique Glaser said. “My mother would have gone insane if she had been told she’d have to have a tattoo — she would have given up immediately.
“I’m no expert, but I thought it was really grotesque. It just appears as though you’d be a prisoner there, but then you’d actually become a machine, create tools with which you’d be sentenced, and this was done with nary a thought. It’s revolting,” he added.
‘Like an instrument of torture’
Marek Lubosinski, who represented the Heritage Auctions company, rejected claims that the auction house had sold anything that was legal.
“Theirs is a fishing expedition, and it’s a slander of justice to claim these things were not done,” Lubosinski told CNN.
Lubosinski said the kits were authentic because they listed piercings, tattooing tools and knives, but none of the prisoners used the instruments.
The kit sold for $108,000, making it one of the highest prices ever paid for a military item, Lubosinski said.
He pointed out that the court found there was a legal argument in favor of the auction house.
“The kits were not used for immediate gratification, they were meant to alert guards and guard orders,” Lubosinski said.
“They were intended to provide them in case they were needed,” he added.
The kits can’t be proven as part of the Holocaust only as long as there is no document saying otherwise, says the court.
Heritage Auctions will hold an auction on Saturday for items linked to the service conducted by a Holocaust survivor, Bomer Weiner, who died in 2015.
The auction house says it cannot decide whether the kits belong in the same category as Weiner’s service because the kits themselves are not identifiable as being part of a Jewish prisoner’s possession.
Lubosinski insisted that his company had done all it could to screen the purchasers.
“It’s a very quick way of disposing these things. We did this on Friday, before the auction, that we won’t accept these premises,” he said.
“There is no record that these have belonged to Jewish prisoners, and that’s why it’s clear to me that they were bought and sold for the legitimate purpose of a legal auction house,” he added.
Alexi Berman, president of the Jerusalem Museum of Art, denounced the kit’s sale by Heritage Auctions.
Berman’s museum is “disappointed by the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court to allow the sale of a canard that was used by the Nazis to encourage the early application of tattooing,” he said in a statement.
“If the ‘fake tattoo kits’ were actually used on prisoners, not only was the practice of using them associated with the Nazis, but they symbolize one of the first acts of genocide against Jews. They are clearly illicit. Their sale is tantamount to a war crime,” Berman said.
Maggie Scheiner, executive director of the Hungarian Holocaust Survivors Organization, slammed the Supreme Court decision.
“This is disgraceful and not only does it fail to defend the Holocaust victims, but it also dismisses the survivors’ suffering and triumphs of the survivors,” Scheiner said.
In a statement, the Knesset — Israel’s parliament — denounced the sale of the kit as “dangerous” and vowed to pass a law to forbid it.
The auction house accused the parliament of trying to interfere with the auction.