Last week, while looking for Nazi items for sale from Thailand available internationally, we found more than a few odd items. Some were not objectionable, some were the Seven Star merchandise we've known about and the others show a general lack of knowledge about the symbols and usage (see below.)
All of the items above have been produced recently, are not historically important nor informed. But what about the buyers, why are they buying these items? To find out, I looked at a Nazi flag that was linked on all of these pages under: Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed and found these: (Click on the picture for the actual page.)
Nazi memorabilia is banned by law in Austria, France, Germany and Hungary and the major auction houses in the UK will not sell even the genuine items. Aside from the general offensiveness of the symbolism these items hold, there were several reasons for this legislation- they do create a platform for hate by clearly showing support for it exists and it is sometimes questionable who profits from the sale of these items.
In Israel and the US, the symbols are not banned because it is considered a restriction of individuals' freedom. People that use the symbols openly are part of a subculture that knows its origin and are generally detested by the majority of the population. Hate speech and hate crime laws are complicated in both countries but generally large private communications companies tend to have rules in place that prohibit hate speech.
In Thailand, the symbols are not banned but past international controversy forced sellers of Nazi and Hitler themed items to be a bit less blatant about it. In the past the images would surface and an incident would gain international attention, the people involved often apologize and the cycle repeats itself. Our concern is that the incidents are more and more common and the controversy fails to have a lasting effect. We do not advocate the banning of the symbols in Thailand for two reasons. First, some of the swastikas in Thailand originate from the Indian symbol and while it is often obvious which is which, there can be a grey area. Bans also are ineffective in Thailand, they backfire often and things that are explicitly banned can become more popular. The song "One Night in Bangkok" was banned in 1985 here and it still enjoys popularity here, probably more than it would have without the ban.
People decide to collect these items for various reasons, some of them collect for legitimate reasons and those people are often allies against bigotry. While we find the idea of a hobby collecting the items a bit off-putting and odd, we aren't against off-putting and odd. (What do we like to look at and talk about outside of work? Definitely not Nazi stuff.) So, here is our latest infographic on the issue and next time we will blog about Nazi swastikas versus Indian ones.