My That’s a Nice Collection of Nazi Soldiers You Have

Today the wife and I made a last-minute decision to drive to Fredericksburg for a few hours.  We have a set routine whenever we go.  It typically includes a battlefield stop, the local Borders Books, lunch at Sammy T's, and a stroll through the old towne.  We stopped at the new strip of land bought by the CWPT that focuses on the first days fighting at Chancellorsville.  [Take a look at this interactive map that chronicles the fighting in this particular area.] I wanted to check it out as preparation for a tour that I will organize for my Civil War class.  The site is well interpreted and makes for an ideal first stop rather than driving further to the Zoan Church located on the edge of the shopping malls, which are edging further west along Rt. 3. Our other battlefield stop included a few sites along Lee Drive in Fredericksburg.   We walked up Lee Hill to his command position and talked about what he might have meant when he said: "It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it."  I still don't really know what he was getting at.

As we drove by the Fredericksburg battlefield visitor center I decided to check out a little Civil War shop across the street.   I thought we would find a bunch of goofy souvenirs, but it turned out to include an impressive collection of artifacts.  However, when we walked into the rear room we were shocked to find a collection of German SS soldiers in a glass case.  My wife being from Germany was absolutely appalled to find such a collection on display, especially in Waffen SS uniform carrying flags with swastikas.  We left immediately.  This is not the first time that I've come across such items in a store that claims to offer Civil War items.  I have to wonder whether others have noticed the same thing, but more importantly, I am curious as to the connection. 

Please don't tell me that it is simply a matter of being attracted to the uniforms or that I ought to distinguish between the soldier and the cause.  Anyway you slice it, there is something really disturbing about this.

8 thoughts on “My That’s a Nice Collection of Nazi Soldiers You Have

  1. Mannie Gentile

    Kevin,

    As you may know, I’m a collector of helmets (http://combathelmets.blogspot.com/). Before the days of ebay I’d travel to military relic shows as well as gun shows through out Michigan looking for helmets. I ended up rubbing elbows with all sorts of folks, well, all sorts of white folks at those events.

    I’d encounter plenty of regular people (like me, that is) who were looking for obscure and affordable helmets for their collections. I’d also encounter lots of people who included in their resumes; racism, neo-nazism, Christian extremism,

    and:

    Select from list to fill in the blank:

    Jew , Jane Fonda, environmentalist, Democrat, liberal, pony-tail, white wine, jazz, public education, flouride, Social Security, income tax, public health, New Deal, Canada, conservationist,
    helmet law, Mexican, Japanese automobile

    _____ haters

    Eventually, I stopped going to most of these events as they creeped me out too much, I’m quite sure I’m not missed.

    It is disquieting to go into a vendor’s expecting one thing – Civil War stuff, and encountering Nazi stuff. But I think for the vendor its simply a matter of the bottom line. There’s a big, creepy, market out there for Nazi stuff.

    I have four WWII German helmets in my collection, the four that no comprehensive 20th century would be complete without. Unlike some collectors I’ve encountered however…

    I didn’t make sure they fit before I bought them.

    I knew a young man who was fascinated by Nazi stuff and exclusively collected it. For a college student who had just gotten married and was burdened with student loans, he had a very large collection of pricey items. I asked him if he’d ever read “Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. He said he’d heard of it but hadn’t read it. I told him that if he ever does it will probably impact his collecting focus.

    The advent of catalogues and ebay means that I’ve been able to acquire helmets from the comfort of my own keyboard, and that’s company I prefer keeping. Though, like you, I find Nazi materials jumping out of the most unexpected corners.

    Mannie

    Reply
  2. Ken Noe

    Kevin: Awhile back I stood in line at a public event near an older man and his middle-aged (I’m guessing) son: the older man had his pro-Confederate heritage group cap on and the son had Nazi-era Luftwaffe wings pinned to his jacket. At the time I hoped it was just an ugly coincidence.–Ken

    Reply
  3. David Levin

    It does not surprise me brother. Do you want to know what the 2 or 3 most popular history classes at stockton are: History of the Third Reich, Modern Germany and Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.

    Reply
  4. Kevin Levin

    Hey Dave, — You may have something there, but I would distinguish between what I saw yesterday and the popularity of a college course. The latter may simply reflect a general interest among the general public. After all, every other episode on the History Channel is either about Eva Braun’s home movies or Hitler’s last days in the bunker.

    Reply
  5. toby

    There is a big market for Nazi memoribilia and emblems, sometimes innocuous. I know re-enactors who dress up in WWII German uniforms. These make a point of not using SS uniforms; little do they know that the Wehrmacht was demonstrably as bad as the SS.

    However, the display of Nazi collectibles and Civil War souvenirs makes one a little queasy.

    I once saw something much worse … a photograph of German skinheads in their “clubhouse” amid Nazi paraphenalia. These are the brutish types who petrol-bomb refugee hostels.

    One the wall amid the Nazi stuff was also displayed a Confederate flag with the words underneath (in English) “The South will Rise Again”.

    It is a pity that the Confederate flag was ever dragged into modern racist politics. Look how it can be defiled.

    Reply
  6. Tom Breen

    I am not sure whether the original poster is merely daft or intentionally trying to mislead all of you. The store in question has mostly CW memorabilia and relics…this is the majority of the store. In the back section of the store, they have military miniatures…egyptian, roman legionaires, CW zouaves, medieval knights, and yes, WWII figures, some of whom are black uniformed Waffen SS. In just the back section, about 70 sq. feet of miniatures, only 3-4 feet of them are the SS.

    I used to play with WWII German toy soldiers, does that make me a racist or a closet Nazi? Of course, I also had WWII American and British troops to fight the Germans (and trust me, the Brits and Yanks always won in my bedroom battlefield).

    People who are into wargaming use figures of BOTH SIDES, just as I used both sides in my childhood battles.

    Reply
  7. Sherree

    The problem is that racists from all over the world draw a connection between the Confederate flag and the swastika. Why?

    Reply

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