I was reading a fine essay by Matthew Vollmer about visiting the home of a man who collected Nazi artifacts and memorabilia, and it got me to remembering.
I had nazi relics/artifacts when I was a kid.
I was born in 1948 in a refugee camp in Germany, and I grew up in the 50s, in a neighborhood of Holocaust survivors and Polish refugees. I knew Polish cavalry officers, hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos, men who had lost their hands in the Warsaw uprising, Polish women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Soviets.
My friends were the children of these people, and all of us had artifacts from the war--knives, arm bands, watches, gas masks, helmets, etc. We traded them, brought them home, played with them, never considering that our parents had been beaten and raped by the men who wore these things.
I remember one time, when I was probably 10, coming home with a dark blue Nazi helmet on my head. My father opened the door and started to weep.