After browsing at a military supply store in New Westminster this week, a Vancouver resident says he is offended by some of the items for sale that display Nazi symbolism.
Avie Alauf, originally from Israel, went to Westley Military Surplus on Front Street and saw Nazi symbols such as the swastika and Parteiadler - the official Nazi Party insignia - on several items in the store.
"It's funny, because you can see on one side bags of Israeli paratroopers, which are new, obviously, just beside Nazi T-shirts," he said. "I'm sure (the owners) don't have a problem with Jews, or whatever, but - it's crazy to sell Nazi T-shirts."
Alauf served with the Israeli army and was interested in seeing what the store had for sale when he dropped in on Monday evening.
He said he was surprised to find items from the Third Reich for sale in Canada.
"It's kind of weird to me that they sell it in plain sight," he said. "Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, but I don't know."
Store owner Pauly Benton said this is the first time he has heard of a complaint of this kind since he bought the store last year.
Being of Jewish descent himself, Benton showed the Star of David he wears around his neck and said he is, in turn, offended that someone would complain about having Nazi memorabilia on display or for sale.
"I find it offensive that this guy phoned and complained about it," he said. "I find that totally offensive, knowing that I have five distant relatives in my family that were actually killed during the Holocaust. So, to me, it's something that should not be forgotten."
Westley Military Surplus stocks an array of military supplies, such as uniforms and authentic war memorabilia from Canada, America, Israel, Germany, England, among other nations, as well as hunting, survival and camping gear.
On the store website, the only German war memorabilia listed is "authentic" Nazi gas masks in adult and child sizes for sale.
Benton said he does not know what uses his customers have for any of the Nazi items or T-shirts with Nazi logos they purchase and says that is their business.
"I don't know what orientation, what religion they are; I have no idea, and I don't ask them," he said. "I'm glad they actually do buy it, and I'm glad they actually do wear it, because then they're showing the world that this was something that actually happened."
Benton said he is not concerned anyone buying the T-shirts or memorabilia may be affiliated with neo-Nazi or white supremacist groups.
"I've never had a skinhead in here buying this stuff. I mean, I get kids that buy it. Parents that buy it."
Regardless of who buys the items and what use they have for them, Benton says the city and the police have approved of his business.
He also suggested any of the items in his store could be considered offensive by those who oppose war in general.
"I'm trying to promote history, and that's all I'm trying to do," Benton said.
Whether or not some people find Nazi memorabilia offensive, it is legal to sell these items, according to Det. Const. Terry Wilson, with the B.C. Hate Crime Team.
"There's lots of things in this world that are offensive, and the police don't get involved with it," he said. "So what he's selling there is essentially memorabilia from the Second World War. Even if it's new stuff, it reflects a historical component."
Displaying a symbol like a swastika on one's clothing or at a private residence is not against the law, as long as there is no direct message of hate directed at a person or group of people.
"In itself, the symbol is not against the law," Wilson said.