France auction house cancels Nazi memorabilia sale

Image provided by French auction House Vermot de Pas shows Nazi leader Hermann Goering's passport on 14 April 2014. Hermann Goering's passport was to be included in the controversial sale

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Objects that belonged to the Nazi leaders Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering have been withdrawn from an auction in Paris, after Jewish groups objected to the sale.

The memorabilia included Goering's passport and a wooden chest marked with swastikas, which was owned by Hitler.

The French Culture Minister had joined Jewish groups in denouncing the sale.

The auction house, Vermot de Pas, said it had not intended to stir controversy.

"We were pitching this as part of the responsibility to remember - but in no way to shock or create a polemic," AP news agency quoted co-manager Laudine de Pas, as saying.

'Moral indecency'

The sale on 26 April was due to feature some 40 items seized from Hitler's Bavarian home in the last days of Nazi Germany in May 1945, according to the auction house.

Among them was a napkin bearing Hitler's initials and a 17th Century manuscript presented to Hitler's former deputy, Goering, in 1935.

France's best-known association of Jewish groups, CRIF, had denounced the sale as "harming the memory of victims of Nazi barbarity".

This image provided by French auction House Vermot de Pas shows a napkin bearing Adolf Hitler's initials on 14 April 2014 A napkin bearing Hitler's initials was also among the items being offered

In a statement, the organisation said selling the objects would give them "unhealthy symbolic value that resembles cynicism and a form of moral indecency".

Another group, the National Office of Vigilance against Anti-Semitism, had joined calls for the sale to be blocked, calling it "obscene".

French Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti welcomed the cancellation on Monday, saying it was "necessary in the light of history and morality", according to AFP news agency.

She had reportedly sent a letter to France's auctions authority, The Council of Voluntary Sales (CVV), questioning the validity of the sale.

She referred to France's official ban on the public display of objects linked to Nazi ideology, according to AP.

Catherine Chadelat, president of the CVV, told AFP the items were by their very nature likely to shock and that Vermot de Pas had decided to withdraw them from the sale.

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