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Question: Would a Nazi era German clay pipe be inflammatory or merely interesting?

I was recently told of a rare find.  An acquaintance in Germany discovered some clay pipes and a pipe mold that had been hidden away and forgotten for more than sixty years.  The pipe has a swastika on the bowl. They were most likely produced in the mid to late 1930s and after the defeat of the Nazis in 1945 discarded, hidden or simply stored somewhere and eventually forgotten. I was asked, as a dealer in clay pipes, if I would be interested in selling them at Pipeshoppe.com. Germany and several other European countries forbid the sale of items displaying a swastika, and for good reason. But collectors around the world seem to be interested in memorabilia from World War II. These pipes were around before and during the war, but no one I have spoken to knows the exact origin of these pipes. Were they commissioned by the National Socialist Workers Party, or produced by a pro-fascist pipe maker, or by someone who just wanted to make a buck during the heyday of the Third Reich? I don’t know.

Clay pipe from the Third Reich
Clay pipe from the Third Reich

What I do know is: I don’t want to be accused to trying to make a buck off of the suffering of millions of victims of the racist regime that pulled the world into the most horrific slaughter in the history of mankind, to this point. I am tempted to make these pipes available to Pipeshoppe.com customers for the simple reason that they are a part of history. I can look at this pipe and reflect on the horror that inflamed the era in which it was fired.

Clay pipe from the Third Reich
Clay pipe from the Third Reich

I am hoping for some honest and considered opinion on whether such a pipe, a rare collectors item that it is, has a place on this website. Will this pipe be scarfed up by the Breitbart crowd and nostalgic neo-nazis? If so I don’t want to sully the site with what would be simply a symbol of hate. On the other side, if true pipe collectors are merely interested in buying a unique clay pipe, certainly I, for one, have never run across in the past, then I want Pipeshoppe.com to be the place where they can make that purchase.

I did not have relatives who perished in the Holocaust, so I have no standing to say whether these pipe are going to be too offense to list on the site. As a pipe collector, I find this unusual find extremely interesting. Let me know your thoughts.

I will allow comments on this post for a couple of weeks and consider your thoughts on how to proceed.

3 Comments

  1. David

    I bought an Irish clay because the mold had an interesting history. If you could find more out about the mold I think it would be more compelling. I am in the same boat as you not knowing if it is offensive. If I bought one I would smoke it once and then stash it away and only show it to very interested friends. I am very liberal and the current media attention the neo Nazis recieve leaves a nasty taste for me. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be interested in history and historical artifacts. I don’t know. Honestly I wonder if normalizing the swastika would dampen the voice of neo Nazis.

    Also, are you sure the supplier is not a neo Nazi. I wouldn’t support that, ever. I wonder if it wouldn’t just be best if those artifacts were turned over to a museam. Then people could enjoy it in a different way, without worrying if it is offensive.

  2. admin

    Hi David,
    I can assure you that the person who has the pipes is not a right winger and certainly not a Neo Nazi. He has the material to reproduce these pipes as well as having the old bowls. If I decide to stock them I will explain that the mold from which the pipes were made dates back to the 1930s-early 1940s. I suspect that one day after the name Donald Trump has been expunged from our history books, a cache of Make America Great Again ball caps will be uncovered in some bunker in Idaho and there will be an interest among souvenir hunters to acquire the fascinating yet distasteful relics of our weird history.
    I don’t really know if these pipes would have any impact one way or the other on how the neo-fascists are regarded.

    Ken
    P.S. I joke a lot so please don’t take offense if you have, wear and love your Make America Great Again ball cap. In fact please let me know when it happens.

  3. KC Ellis

    We have decided there may be a market for this antique pipe among World War II reenactors and memorabilia collectors, but that this is not a pipe we want to carry in our standard selection. If anyone is interested in purchasing the pipe for $49.99 please send us an email.

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