In defense of offering Nazi memorabilia for sale at Roseville’s Antique Trove, co-owner Gary Dean commented, “It’s not like I couldn’t rent that space to somebody else. But why should I do that? Because a handful of people have their sensibilities offended?”
His words tell me that he must be too young to have felt the full shock and horror that Americans felt in 1945 when Allied troops liberated the Nazi death camps. Americans gathered around their radios, aghast by the news. Newspapers and magazines published horrifying photographs and at the movies, newsreels documented what happened when Adolf Hitler was allowed to establish the diabolical tyranny over which he presided. I was a child in 1945, and though adults tried to shield children from this terrible news, the national sense of outrage and mourning was so great that we children were aware. In other words, Americans were not then nor are we now “a handful of people whose sensibilities were offended.”
For Americans, the deep lesson of the Holocaust is to be true to the pledge we make when we say, “…and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We need to be vigilant against seemingly harmless erosions of that pledge— erosions such as casually offering Nazi artifacts for sale because they’re interesting. Those things belong in museums where the enormity of what they stand for can remind us that if we are not vigilant, we, too, can slide into the moral chasm of fascism where the words “liberty and justice for all” mean nothing.
Carol Hoge, Lincoln