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State told to pay collector €8k for binning Nazi flag

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State told to pay collector €8k for binning Nazi flag
The man said he started his collection with his grandfather's bayonet that he had used while serving in the French army. File photo: Valerie Everett/Flickr
15:46 CET+01:00
A collector of war memorabilia from Normandy, northern France, has been awarded €8,000 in compensation after a French court ruled that authorities had "illegally" ordered the destruction of a Nazi flag from his prized collection of World World II memorabilia.

French authorities have been forced to pay out €8,000 in compensation to a collector of World War II memorabilia after it confiscated and destroyed a Nazi flag that was part of his collection, Le Point reported on Tuesday.

The case can be traced back to October 5th 2009, according to Le Point, when the collector's partner pressed charges against him after he allegedly threatened their child with a handgun.

Following the complaint the 53-year-old father was then taken into custody by police.

During the investigation, police carried out a raid of the man’s home in which they seized a Nazi flag designed to be displayed on a balcony which had been folded up in a cardboard box.

Along with the flag, police found five daggers, seven German, English and American bayonets, a flare pistol, as well as a German medal and helmet.

“I started my collection with my grandfather’s bayonet that he had used while serving in the French army," the man told Le Point.

“Then I expanded [my collection] with objects from the allied forces and the Germans. The German objects are worth a lot more.”

But when the case against him was dismissed in 2010, the collector naturally asked for his memorabilia to be returned to him, he was stunned when the prosecutor refused, saying they had ordered the destruction of the flag as well as the weapons.

The prosecutor justified the destruction of the weapons, because of their “dangerous nature”, and said that the Nazi flag bearing a swastika flag “recalls a racist and xenophobic ideology.”

Angered by the prosecutor’s decision, the collector then appealed to a civil court in Caen and finally won the case.

While the destruction of the weapons was justifiable by law Le Point notes, owning a Nazi flag is not actually illegal as long as it is not displayed in public, so should therefore have been returned. 

The court in Caen this week admitted there had been a “serious offence” and ordered €8,000 ($11,000) in damages to be paid to the collector, below the €13,725 ($18,900) in compensation he had demanded, based on the current market price of the items.

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