A German auction house has come under fire by European Jewish organizations for selling Nazi memorabilia, including a top hat worn by Adolf Hitler while he was sworn in as the chancellor of Germany and a topcoat worn by his partner Eva Braun.
Hermann Historica, the Munich-based auction house, put hundreds of pieces of Nazi memorabilia up for bid on Wednesday in a collection simply titled "German Historical Collectibles from 1919 Onwards." The hat was sold for more than $55,000, the auction house said.
The European Jewish Association condemned the auction, saying the memorabilia would be purchased by people looking to "glorify" Nazism.
"We believe the sale of such memorabilia has little intrinsic historical value but instead will be bought by those who glorify and seek to justify the actions of the greatest evil to affect Europe," said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the Association's chairman, in a letter to the house.
The memorabilia also included dozens of official documents and decorations from the Third Reich, memorabilia from the Nazi military and three items from Nazi resisters.
Hermann Historica's owner, Bernhard Pacher, denied any concerns leveled by Jewish groups, telling Reuters and the Associated Press that they went to "great lengths" to ensure buyers did not support neo-Nazi ideologies – including having each in-person buyer sign a form that they reject Nazi beliefs.
The restrictions for online buyers, however, were not as stringent. Hermann Historica sells worldwide.
"The overwhelming majority of buyers are national and international museums and research facilities, plus some well-recognized collectors," he said before the auction.
A letter written by Pacher obtained by the Associated Press justified the sale of these items as making tangible the horrific crimes perpetrated by Nazis.
"Blood-soaked as it is, the item brings to life past events, it makes history tangible, but it does in no way glorify its bearer," he wrote in the letter.
Hermann Historica has a history of auctioning off Nazi memorabilia. In 2016, it auctioned off one of Hitler's uniforms for over $300,000, and in 1987, they sold Hitler's typewriter.
Nazi symbols, including the swastika and the Nazi salute, are largely banned in Germany. There is an exception, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, for uses that fall under "civic education, countering anti-constitutional activities, art and science, research and education, the coverage of historic and current events, or similar purposes," per the country's Criminal Code.
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: German auction house selling Hitler's tophat, Nazi items under fire