A Postcard from Yerevan

Zur deutschen Fassung.


“You are from Germany?” asks Alex, the very friendly owner of the very cozy accommodation in a prefab neighborhood of Yerevan.

“Yes.”

“Then I have to show you a steel helmet.”

He gets up, and I follow him into the dining room, where there is not only a swastika-decorated helmet, but also workbooks of the Reich Labor Service, Wehrmacht officer’s whistles, an SS badge and Heinrich Himmler’s glasses, all nicely arranged like in a museum.

I don’t want to start a discussion with my host (especially as I don’t speak any Armenian or Russian), but he can recognize my lack of enthusiasm. Alex quickly proceeds to show me my room, thankfully free of fascist memorabilia, the balcony and the bathroom.

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Armenia, History, Travel, World War II and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to A Postcard from Yerevan

  1. Pingback: Eine Postkarte aus Jerewan | Der reisende Reporter

  2. David says:

    It seems you’ve run into this not infrequently, if my impression is correct.

    In your experience, do these kind of collectors collect such memoribilia because they have some affinity for Nazis or is it purely collecting for collecting’s sake?

    Of course, you can’t say definitely, but what’s your general impression?

    • From the Bolivian jungle to the bazars of Tehran, I run into this kind of crap everywhere. I don’t know if it’s bad luck, or if I just have sharp eyes for it. (Later on that stay, I saw some dubious stuff in the Armenian Military Museum.)

      Alex from Yerevan struck me as a collector, for he also had a British WW2 dagger, and he went all the way to Europe to buy more stuff.
      He kept asking me what I was collecting and I noticed his disappointment about me not roaming flea markets in search of antiquities, until I finally gave in and said that I like old books. (He later e-mailed me an offer of some old book, which was way out of my price class.)

      But generally, I find people who collect Nazi memorabilia rather dubious. Even if they say they are just collectors, I often sense some fascination. (Similarly with the re-enactment folks.)
      Sometimes, it may be misguided, but innocent fascination with something “exotic”. But especially the militaria guys are often trying to argue a distinction between Nazi ideology and the German military, which is counter-factual. And too often, they are too eager to praise the alleged superiority of German tactics, tanks, pilots, guns etc. I find it a bit too obvious where their sympathies lie.

      But then, on the other hand, I remember memorabilia sellers in Kiev, for example, who sold Wehrmacht and Red Army stuff side by side.

      My mother is going to flea markets very weekend (when there is no pandemic). I’ll have to join her one day and see what people offer, what they look for, and try to find out more about this scene.

    • In addition, I would like to say, yes, I did collect Nazi stamps when I was a child. But I collected stamps from all other eras and countries too.
      (It was actually a great way to learn about geography and a bit of history.)

  3. PedroL says:

    it must be a bit scary situations like this! it’s more than obvious that being german does not make one german nazi… oh well, good luck on that Andreas! regards, PedroL

    • I am really surprised how often people have this assumption. They must not have heard anything about Germany in the past decades. Or they have only met neo-Nazis, although I don’t think these guys travel as much as I do.

    • PedroL says:

      I know what you mean… PedroL

    • I saw on your blog that you are from Portugal, and I must say, I’ve never had a negative experience, like this or of any other kind, in Portugal.

      But this was before Chega came along, so who knows how it will be next time…

    • PedroL says:

      well, Chega is a virus similar to this pandemic… historically, we deal well with ‘creatures’ like Chega, everyone used to make fun of them but unfortunately now they grew too much… even if people are a bit scared I believe that they will not grow in a sense that get any kind of chance… at least people are awared about what happened in the USA and what is happening in Brazil… so let’s hope it get controlled! regards, PedroL

    • I think that’s why it was such a shock, because historically, Portugal (and Spain until the recent appearance of Vox) was steadfastly immune to any right-wing populism.
      It was nice to know that such a country exists, where I could flee to if necessary, just like many Germans and Austrians fled to Portugal in the 1930s and 1940s.

    • PedroL says:

      That’s it, don’t worry, you can come, you’ll be safe Andreas eheh PedroL

    • Just now, I thought of this article I once wrote about Portugal: Ostensibly, it’s about facemasks, but in reality it was my attempt to portray the Portuguese political and social model, with the little knowledge I had at the time.

      https://andreasmoser.blog/2020/05/12/facemask/

    • PedroL says:

      really nice post Andreas :) well, I wish Portugal was the Switzerland here at the Iberian Peninsula ahah have a great week, PedroL

  4. My ex had some “memorabilia”, but it was from his grandfather who was a medic in the war.
    I would think most German people would like to forget all that Nazi stuff.
    Unfortunately, it’s still very popular. White Supremacist groups are “loud and proud” here in US thanks to our former president’s support.
    It makes me laugh, and scares me at the same time to see “Antifa” portrayed as a bad thing.

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