A creepy piece of history

My husband woke me up this morning with an unusual question:

"Did you ever look at the marking on the bottom of our big serving platter?"

My husband isn't exactly the kind to get excited about porcelain makers. In fact, his main concern is usually the food on a plate rather than its brand name. So I was intrigued. He refused to tell me what the mark was until I went up to look at where it was drying on the counter top. (I'd used it to serve chicken on Shabbat, and it had sat in the fridge covered in plastic wrap since then. The plate is very large and heavy, but I manage to fit it into our microwave.)

I stumbled into the kitchen and saw this on the underside of the platter:

Didn't quite catch that? Maybe a closeup will help.

After a little bit of Googling, we learned that FI. U. V. stands for "Flieger Unterkunft Verwaltung"-- inventory of the German Luftwaffe (air force.)

I've been serving Shabbat chicken on a Nazi plate.


Now we are in a quandry. Do we A) continue to use this as a normal serving platter, B) save it as an interesting historical artifact, or C) try to sell it?

Option A doesn't feel right. For one thing, I can only imagine the reaction of my husband's Holocaust survivor grandparents if they noticed that I served fish to them on this Nazi platter. These are people who shudder at the sight of Volkswagons, let alone dishes marked with actual swastikas. Besides, I think I've lost my appetite.

Option B is kind of tempting. The platter was obviously brought to Israel by Holocaust refugees (and ultimately left in our cupboards by the previous tenants). In a way, it represents Jews rising out of the ashes of the Holocaust to live in freedom in our own nation. Take that, Nazi pilots! I served Shabbat dinner on your plate! On the other hand, it feels wrong to give any Nazi item a place remotely resembling honor in our home.

So then there's Option C, selling the plate. It's probably worth about 150-300 dollars (see similar, smaller plates here: http://www.redrumautographs.com/His2.html). But people who collect Nazi memorabilia creep me out...  this guy, for example, seems way too enamored with Hitler and swastikas. The ideal option might be to donate the platter to an Israeli museum, but I'm not sure which one.

So, that's how I woke up this morning. What would you do? Have you encountered any Nazi items in Israel? Any suggestions?


  1. It's illegal to buy and sell Nazi paraphernalia in many countries. Though I don't know if this includes Israel, I'd have to assume so. On the other hand, I don't know that it would include Luftwaffe stuff, as opposed to some material like the SS daggers I've seen around. I think you should hold onto the plate and display it, but not prominently.

  2. For anyone curious:
    This piece was crafted by the Springer & Co. company of Elbogen, Bohemia (now Loket). The company was founded in 1891 as a maker of fine porcelain dishes and figurins. And continued producing until 1945 when it closed - probably in a backlash against its work for the Nazi government.
    The arm-and-sword seal of the company is based on the Elbogen city flag, which can be seen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loket

  3. ng, you're right, that rules out selling it... even if it's legal in Israel, I can't imagine that I would be comfortable selling it to anyone who wanted to buy. But the question remains, what to do?

  4. Put it in a trunk in the attic and tell the story to your grandkids...

  5. prophetjoe, if only Israeli apartments came with attics :) But putting it away in storage is a good idea... not exactly displaying it, but still holding onto the item for its significance (as I interpret it).

  6. How about contacting Yad Vashem and asking their opinion?

  7. I'd destroy it. Where do you want this evil to exist? I once had some occult books. When I turned away from such evil, I thought of selling them. I tore them apart instead, to work against the evil they perpetuate.

    Pray and trust that the Lord can replace the platter with something more fitting because you seek to honor Him.

  8. What is partly amazing here is that apparently NO one noticed this, for so many years, till this morning. Seems to me like it was 'meant to be' that your husband saw it today-- and noticed. Most of us go through life *not* noticing so many things... Very instructive 'life lesson' here.... I think the idea of contacting Yad V'Shem is a very good one-- or maybe better, the wonderful Ghetto Fighters Museum just north of you that your dad and I visited last winter-- I would think they might especially be interested in this, and would be able to give sage advice on what to do with it that would be appropriate.

    Ima in America

  9. Ask Yad Vashem, and if they have no ideas, just put it in storage. Selling it is weird (I would feel uncomfortable giving anything I own to anyone who collects Nazi memorabilia), and destroying it is destroying history, no matter how ugly that history is.

  10. OMG! I laughed and shuddered! I live in Paraguay where many Nazi's ended up... I once walked out of an International ladies luncheon when some of the German women were proudly telling their family stories of escaping down here.
    Can't stand anything Nazi... I think I would take pictures and then type up this post which you could share with the rest of your friends and family.
    Then break the Nazi plate into a million pieces!

  11. well for one thing don't serve hot food on this plate , it's not kosher....

  12. lol that's priceless! I mean, it's terrible, but just the irony of it is hilarious when you think about it..

  13. I think Ima in America has the best idea - to give it to the Ghetto Fighter's Museum. If it is no use to them, they can dispose of it as they see fit.
    Did your previous tenant leave anything else? How interesting!

  14. I'm going to try to contact a museum to see what they say. This being Israel, their reaction will probably be, "Why are you asking??" (I told some of my Israeli friends this story yesterday, and her response was that German dishes are often really good quality, and that if I want to get rid of this dish I should give it to her. How's that for pragmatism?)

    Here was one thought that a European history teacher wrote in response to my FB message:

    Wow indeed! What a story to tell your kids when they are older!

    I certainly wouldn't want to keep serving my meals on it either. :-)

    But please note that this is NOT a NAZI artifact. It is a plain standard issue military platter. Not all German military were Nazis....

    I agree that the guy whose link you posted is definitely creepy. But there must be other collectors out there who collect military memorabilia without any evil intentions.

    This British site for example,
    states that "Photographs which. .. show graphic depictions of violence, death or torture and are generally deemed tasteless or innapropriate will be removed. " It has military memorabilia from all over the world, and seems quite respectable.

    So if you think the money would come in handy, you could try selling it. But go along with your gut feelings. If you feel it belongs in a museum, just follow Jedidiah's advice and call around.

  15. Update: I've e-mailed Yad Vashem, so we'll see what they tell me.

  16. What about giving it to a history teacher for his/her show and tell when they study the Holocaust.

    Especially nowadays, the kids are so far removed from what it really meant to be a Nazi, to be able to get up close and personal with something that was not only used by the Germans during WWII, but has the swastika on it.

    My grandfather obm served int he US Army during WWII and was stationed in Regensburg, AUstria for much of his tour. He brought home quite a bit of memorabilia that has since been donated to various museums. One was a Nazi parade flag and I brought it in to school (I was in 10th grade at the time) and it was really the first time any of my schoolmates were up close to something that sinister.

  17. Wow... as a historian I think that is an astounding find... especially in Israel. As a Jew it makes my skin crawl. But I would suggest you take it to the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum in Jerusalem. I would also try to figure out who lived in your apartment before you and attempt to contact them about it, the platter might have an interesting story behind it.

  18. I can't tell you what to do with it. There is something satisfying knowing that those who tried to destroy us are gone and we aren't.

  19. Jack, I completely agree. I think that's the reason why I'm tempted to keep the plate. I also agree that it might make the Holocaust real for my future kids, who probably won't know survivors... it's a relatively innocuous item that still is a physical connection to the horrors of WW2, and it's not necessarily a bad thing to keep that around as a reminder.

  20. Maya,

    As a relic of the past made personal for your own family, I do see the value of preservation. I think that's an excellent idea.


  21. How odd!!

    Not being Jewish I do not claim to fully comprehend your repulsion to anything 'nazi' but unlike an SS dagger or such, that thing remains a big white dish. It's not "evil" per se.

    Plus, given that it's not really a rarity I'm sure that Yad Vashem has more than enough WW2 porcelain and cutlery...

    And I quite like your "Take that, Nazi pilots! I served Shabbat dinner on your plate!" attitude.
    I'd keep it. It surely would make for an interesting after-dinner conversation...

  22. The best thing to do is preserve it. The sad fact is, that as those who lived through and witnessed this period die out, there will be plenty of "revisionists" and those who compare everything they don't like in the present to what happened under the Nazis. The terrible uniqueness of that era will be increasingly questioned. For that reason alone, it is better to preserve than to destroy.

    There are many other reasons not to destroy it, but I think that is the best one.

  23. Mo-ha-med, thanks for commenting! I think the revulsion stems from the fact that, in theory, the people who ate off this plate could have been the same people who murdered almost everyone in my husband's grandparent's family. I mean, that casts eating off it in a pretty different light. On the other hand, the Luftwaffe was probably not directly involved in this murder, but still... you see my point. The swastika on the bottom of the plate also bothers me a lot. It feels like too much communion with a force for evil, although I don't know that I would go as far as to say that the plates themselves are evil.

    Anonymous, I agree.

  24. Ask redrumautographs.com

  25. umm... that's the kind of site that freaks me out.

  26. I say try to find the original owners...and shove the plate up their ass!

  27. Update: We're going to donate the plate to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. (See my Nov. 25 post.) I feel great about this decision!

  28. Maya, what did happen to your platter. I had a similar experience. I bought a platter at flea market. Same thing. I posted it on my blog too. See my post. http://faffaround.blogspot.com/2009/12/friday-find-shocker.html
    I have thought about selling it and donating the money to Haiti,(good from bad) but I am not sure who to sell it to. Don't feel like dealing with e-bay wirdos who like this kind of thing. I would love to know what you decided.

  29. Faff around, I called Yad Vashem and they said they'd like to add this plate to their collection of Naxi items brought to Israeli by refugees. I hope you find a similar place to donate your platter!


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