Property Owned By Jewish People (05:25)
From 1933 to 1945, auctioneers in Germany profited greatly off selling seized Jewish property. Thousands of inventories of household items are held in a federal building in Berlin. The records provide an orderly and bureaucratic view of the Nazis.
Buyers of Jewish Owned Property (05:28)
German buyers bought the seized household items at "Jewish auctions." Bruchsal resident Rolf Schmitt remembers his family's sideboard being from such an auction, but never understood what it really meant. The items could be found cheaper at the auction than anywhere else.
The Auctioneers (03:47)
Hans Klemm was a moderately successful auctioneer in Leipzig before the Nazis rose to power. Auctioneers at Jewish auctions were able to keep 10% of all proceeds. Profits spiked in accordance with restrictive laws against Jews.
Jewish Deportation (06:35)
The first German Jews were deported from southwest Germany in 1940. Bruchsal resident Edmund Geckler remembers his friend bordering a truck with only a suitcase and an auction being held in town the following day. Though some refused to participate in the auctions, many poor residents chose to overlook the atrocities to find cheap good.
Bulk Auctions (04:04)
By 1942, advertisements for auctions stopped saying they were because of immigration or downsizing. Auctioneers began having bulk auctions of "non-Aryan goods." Luggage cars, which deported Jews, were told would follow them, stayed behind and the suitcases were sent to auction houses.
Germans in Need (07:29)
As Allied bombing of Germany continued, many people were left homeless and in need of household goods and furniture. Bombing victims were given first priority at Jewish auctions. The proceeds from the auctions were given to the Nazi Party through the local tax authorities.
Demand for Goods (06:55)
By spring 1942, property seized from German Jews was no longer meeting the demands of the bombing victims. The Nazis utilized the “furniture campaign” and looted almost 70,000 apartments in western European. The items were sorted and inspected by Jewish prisoners and then sent to Germany.
Aftermath of War (02:59)
Auctioneers continued to make a profit after the war as people were desperate for cheap goods. Many believed the Jewish residents of small towns would not return. Some went looking for their stolen property.
Return of Goods (08:03)
Some owners of seized Jewish property bought by their parents have searched for the original owners in hope of returning them. Identifying the owners can be incredibly difficult.
Credits: The Auctioneers: Kristallnacht 1938 (00:34)
Credits: The Auctioneers: Kristallnacht 1938
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