Jewish charity rejects auctioneer’s donation

JP Humbert Auctioneers selling a pair of Winston Churchill's glasses.Winston look-alike Derek Herbert pictured modelling them with Jonathan Humbert.'110316M-B992
JP Humbert Auctioneers selling a pair of Winston Churchill's glasses.Winston look-alike Derek Herbert pictured modelling them with Jonathan Humbert.'110316M-B992
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A south Northants auctioneer has said the Jewish holocaust should not be airbrushed from history after a charity rejected the offer of a donation because the auction house deals in Nazi items.

J P Humbert of Towcester approached the British charity Holocaust Educational Trust last week and offered to donate an undisclosed sum after it ran a sale of Nazi artefacts on a Jewish holiday.

But the charity has revealed it chose not to accept because of the auction house’s past sales of Nazi memorabilia.

The Times of Israel also pointed out that the most recent sale of international militaria that included Nazi artefacts, on September 25, coincided with the beginning of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

Jonathan Humbert said the timing was “unfortunate” but that, not being Jewish, he could not be expected to know the dates of Jewish festivals.

Mr Humbert told the Advertiser he is not selling to ‘goose stepping morons’, but sold to institutions, museums, and private collectors, some of whom are Jewish.

Mr Humbert said he has refused to sell Nazi items in the past, including a weapon from a concentration camp which came from the a British solider who liberated it, and recommended it be donated to a holocaust museum.

Mr Humbert added: “Of the 30,000 items I’ve sold, militaria is a only a tiny percentage, and a smaller percentage of that is from Germany. But I would certainly argue, as I have always done, if we try to airbrush out an horrendous part of history, we would be in a very dangerous place.”

On the attempted donation he added: “The sum we offered was not the proceeds of any specific sale, it would have been a bona fide ex-gratia donation.

“They refused it because it was against their policy to accept money from organisations that profit from the sale of items from the Nazi regime.”

The September 25 sale included a wide range of Nazi memorabilia, including an SS bayonet. Although against the law in some European countries, including France and Germany, the sale of Nazi memorabilia is legal in the UK.

Mr Humbert said: “If the law changes we will abide by it to the letter. But we do not actively court Nazi items and it is not for me to make a moral judgement.

“We’ve sold a sofa and other things associated with Winston Churchill and he ordered the bombing of Dresden where tens of thousands of people died, yet we didn’t have people saying those sales were disgusting.”

The Israeli Embassy in London said the only possible reason for buying and selling Nazi items was if they were to form part of a “never again” educational campaign.

My Humbert is a regular supporter of national and local charities and in August he was the auctioneer during Chris Evans’ Carfest, and helped raise £90,000 for Children in Need.