This armband — which the eBay seller katviktod insists was “used in concentration camp Auschwitz” — was purchased on Saturday for $152.50, plus $6 shipping and handling. Like Jews during Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime, gays were also forced to wear their version of a scarlet letter: the pink triangle, a symbol that our community has worked hard to reclaim as our own. I’m not sure how I feel about items like these being sold on the open market.
“This is very important example of the history,” wrote the seller in the item description, which included an estimated sale price of $300-$350. “A very sad reminder of a very sad time, but nevertheless a real piece of Jewish history to teach your children or for the avid collector of these items. You will appreciate and respect these items as we do not want to forget what these people went through. As long as we keep the memory alive in these collectibles, we will always honour the sacrifice. These items are perfect for education purposes or just adding to your display. Whatever the reason is these are very unique items. Show them to your friends, and help your children learn. These items were used in history by those who were unwillingly subjected to the crewel world of War. MUSEUM grade item that puts a face on the Holocaust that any human being can grasp. I believe these items will remind everyone of that awful period of history. The items do not promote or glorify violence, racial or religious intolerance and are selling only for historical purpose to people who are interested in World history.”
I do believe we can distribute and collect items of such horrific historical significance without dishonoring the memory of the estimated 5,000-15,000 gays slaughtered under the Nazi regime, or the 150,000 who were rounded up. These items, most certainly, should not be discarded or destroyed. They are part of our history. But unless I had a personal attachment to the item (say, a grandfather who was forced to wear one of these), I’m not sure I would want it in my own home. That’s not to say nobody else would, but I think museums were made for items like these. And by all means, to the person who won the auction: do not wear it. Please.