'Nazi tools' withdrawn from sale


An auction house has withdrawn from sale a set of surgical instruments it claimed had belonged to the commandant of a Nazi concentration camp, alleging its staff had received death threats.

Villa Hall Auctions said it had pulled Lot 342, a box of tools it claimed belonged to SS Major Anton Burger, commandant of the Theresienstadt camp in what was then Czechoslovakia, after receiving threatening emails and telephone calls from people unhappy that it was selling the box, including one which said it hoped they "died of cancer".

The firm, based in Bude, Cornwall, said it was also looking into a report in the German media that the box was unconnected to Burger, who went into hiding after the war and died in 1991 at the age of 80.

The German newspaper Die Welt reported that it was manufactured by the Anton Buerger company in Dresden.

The Dresden mayor's office told The Associated Press that a company named "Anton Buerger" - spelled "Burger" with the two German umlaut dots over the u, which translates to "ue" in English - manufactured surgical and orthopaedic instruments in the city in the 1940s.

Villa Hall spokeswoman Grace Cloke said they were sad to pull the lot from tomorrow's sale, claiming the money raised from the box, with a guide price of £2,000 to £4,000, was to be donated to a charity for child survivors of war, along with their fee.

"We have had some threatening calls and emails," she said.

"Some of them made very reasonable arguments against the sale and others were just threatening, one even said 'we hope you die of cancer'.

"We spoke to the police and withdrew the items from the auction."