A Note from Michael Levitt
The Disturbing Phenomenon of Nazi Memorabilia
You may have seen headlines this week about the latest case of Nazi memorabilia disturbingly being put up for sale in Canada. Following public condemnation from Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, St. Jacobs Antiques Market in Waterloo Region promptly stopped the display and sale of a Nazi uniform - which had a $6,500 price tag. The store, which said it was selling the item on behalf of another vendor, insisted it doesn't support Nazism and "had no intention to offend anyone." Since then, we've been informed by several local Waterloo community members that other Nazi-era items have also been seen at the store, and we've notified the proprietor of our concerns.
This is but the latest of many such cases in which FSWC has addressed the sale of Nazi memorabilia in Canada. Whether it's a store, auction house or online marketplace, profiting from the sale of Holocaust-related Nazi paraphernalia is disturbing and problematic. While it's impractical to challenge every Nazi coin, stamp and letter from that dark chapter of history, the sale of Nazi memorabilia – particularly those adorned with the swastika – must be confronted.
Not only are these sales grossly inappropriate, but such transactions also trivialize the Holocaust and the horrors committed by the Nazis, misappropriate the suffering of the millions of victims and are an affront to those who were murdered, survivors and the soldiers who fought – and often died – for our freedom. The sale of these items also presents a serious risk of them ending up in the wrong hands, including extremists and Nazi sympathizers. As I publicly stated this week, such Nazi memorabilia has no place in the marketplace. Instead, it belongs in appropriate educational institutions, such as Holocaust or war museums, used as an education tool to teach people about the history and important lessons of the Holocaust and Second World War.
If you come across Nazi memorabilia for sale in your community, please contact us at FSWC. Since the display and sale of such items are not illegal, it's up to us as a community to confront this disturbing phenomenon and educate others on why it's problematic.
Community Update. Antique store ends sale of Nazi uniform following FSWC condemnation
In response to FSWC’s call for action, an antiques shop in the Waterloo area, St. Jacobs Antiques Market, has stopped the sale of a Nazi uniform. Earlier this week, we reached out to the market after learning of the uniform – which features a Nazi armband and pin – which was on sale for $6,500. We insisted it be immediately removed and that it belongs in an appropriate educational institution, such as a history museum. A day later, the market informed FSWC that the item had been pulled and issued an apology, stating it does not support Nazism.
Numerous local media outlets covered the issue, including CTV News, CBC News, Global News and CityNews, all of which featured statements from FSWC.
We have since contacted St. Jacobs Antiques Market once again, after learning they were selling other Nazi memorabilia.
Toronto police investigating antisemitic graffiti
Today, FSWC denounced derogatory, antisemitic graffiti discovered yesterday in the area of Millwood and Redway Roads in Toronto, stating that it promotes an offensive Jewish stereotype and conspiracy. We've received confirmation from the Toronto Police Service that an investigation is underway.
First-ever session of Allyship Conversation Series is two weeks away
The date and time for the first virtual session of FSWC’s Allyship Conversation Series have changed, with the event now taking place on September 14 at 6 PM EDT. We are hosting it in partnership with the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, the Federation of Black Canadians and Egale Canada. It will feature a panel of representatives from each organization who will unpack the most recent hate crime data in Toronto and discuss how vulnerable communities can build and demonstrate allyship.
Click here to register and join us for this important conversation.
Education Update. FSWC set to launch monthly newsletter for Canadian educators
In preparation for the new school year, the FSWC education team has been putting together tools and resources – including a new newsletter – to support teachers in their classrooms. Each month, FSWC will share Classroom Connections, a newsletter filled with ready-made classroom activities, book suggestions for students and information about a variety of human rights issues, including antisemitism and the Holocaust. Each edition will include “Curriculum Connections,” featuring content to support the new Grade 6 Social Studies curriculum expectations on Canadian Jewish heritage and the Holocaust.
If you are an educator and are interested in signing up for the Classroom Connections newsletter, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we move closer to Freedom Day, the FSWC education team has been meeting with speakers to review their presentations and other details for the annual event. More than 1,000 students have already registered to attend in-person or virtually. We hope you can join us on September 20 at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto for 2023 Freedom Day when we will commemorate the life of Simon Wiesenthal, hear from compelling speakers who will talk about their life experiences, including Holocaust survivor Hedy Bohm, and celebrate the precious rights and freedoms of Canadians.
Spotlight on New Books
Highlighting recently published non-fiction and fiction involving subjects related to the work of FSWC
In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust
By Richard Hurowitz
HarperCollins Publishers, 480 pages
A rare source of light in the bottomless darkness of the Holocaust are those too few highly compassionate men and women who, at great personal risk, saved Jews from near-certain death at the hands of the Nazis. This at a time when the attitude of most people toward their persecuted Jewish co-citizens ranged from indifference to hostility. In contrast to most accounts of the Nazi genocide of European Jews, In the Garden of Righteous provides a degree of faith in humanity based on the extraordinary heroics of gentiles who, in outright defiance of orders to round-up or denounce Jews, protected them, knowingly risking their lives and those of their family members for no personal gain. In 1963, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem established a special program to honour such heroes, officially granting them the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
Author Richard Hurowitz delves into the lives of 10 inspiring individuals, none of whom sought recognition or celebration for their life-saving actions. They include Portuguese Consul General Sousa Mendes; Italian Tour de France superstar Gino Bartali; and Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara. In a period of immense peril, all of them felt compelled to save, shelter and stand with their Jewish neighbours and do the right thing despite the danger. Today, amid rising antisemitism and intolerance, the book and its well-researched profiles are a poignant reminder that evil prevails when good people refuse to take a stand and do nothing.
Simon Wiesenthal Center Around the World
2023 FSWC Sponsors
Fred and Linda Waks and Family