Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 13:28 UK

Nazi badges beat auction estimate

Nazi memorabilia (from Thos. Mawer & Son in Lincoln)
The Nazi unit gained a reputation for savage fighting

A collection of Nazi insignia from a unit which shot British prisoners has made almost double the expected price.

Eleven patches from the 3rd SS division Totenkopf, which shot 97 men of the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1940, had been valued at 300 but sold for 550.

The sale had been criticised by former members of the regiment but Lincoln auctioneers Thos Mawer & Son said the items were of historical importance.

The patches were bought by a private collector from Essex.

He had offered up to 2,000 but bidding in the room stopped at 550.

Chance discovery

The 3rd SS division Totenkopf was made up of former concentration camp guards and its "Death's Head" insignia became renowned.

The Royal Norfolk Regiment soldiers, who were shot in a field near Le Paradis in northern France, had been covering the retreat of the British army to Dunkirk.

The massacre was ordered by SS officer Fritz Knochlein who was later executed for war crimes.

Auctioneer Clinton Slingsby said: "I did have a conversation with a veteran who was concerned about the sale.

"But selling or buying such items does not mean you sympathise with Nazism; it happened and as part of history, such things are important and of interest."

The patches were part of a larger collection of military memorabilia that a Lincolnshire man had discovered in his attic.

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