Photo of Hitler posted on auction site hosting Otay water district surplus
The image of Adolph Hitler remains widely recognized 77 years after his suicide. It still evokes strong emotions recalling the cruelty of the dictator and the diabolical ambitions of the Nazis.
It is therefore surprising to see a picture of Hitler in a picture frame offered for sale on an online auction site offering local government surpluses. It was posted on a site advertising “Otay Water District Surplus and Industrial Tools and Equipment”.
Hitler’s photograph appeared on page eight of the site operated by Cal Auctions on behalf of the Water District. She appeared on the website for several days judging by social media comments on the photo.
Next to Hitler’s image was a framed, autographed photo of the late comedian Danny Thomas, a stark contrast to Hitler. Thomas was responsible for founding St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a longtime leader in childhood leukemia research.
How did Hitler’s photograph end up at auction along with office chairs, plumbing supplies and machine tools?
Tenille Otero, who is designated to speak on behalf of the water district, said the agency had seen the photo of the auction depicted on Facebook posts, and “we were concerned about that”, pointing out that ‘she had never owned Hitler’s photo.
The way the auction page appeared online, one would assume that all of the items for sale were from the Water District. However, they are not, she says.
“We were only offering the first five items on the auction website,” which are four F-150 pickup trucks and work tools. All other items were included under the same Otay Water District banner but had nothing to do with the district. She said the agency will review how it conducts auctions in the future.
Jason Hanks, president of Cal Auctions, whose website listed the Otay Water District items for sale, was candid when speaking about the erroneous posting. He thanked The Times of San Diego for bringing attention to the publication, saying Otay Water had no responsibility for what happened.
He is still investigating how the photo and many other items were grouped together on the auction site. He said he suspects a “disgruntled employee” might be responsible for publishing the article.
The photographs of Hitler and Danny Thomas were removed late Tuesday afternoon from the website.
San Diego journalist Brooke Binkowski said the use of the photograph “is a chilling reminder that San Diego remains an active hub for the global far right.” She is a seasoned journalist active in monitoring and reporting on hate groups, including neo-Nazis, both locally and nationally. She hopes for a thorough investigation.
“We have faced racism and anti-Semitism directed at our communities for far too long,” she said. “It’s time to be accountable.”
JW August is a San Diego-based broadcast and digital journalist.