Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Word of Caution For the Milsurp Lovers Out There...

Be careful what you collect. If it's too rare, they might want it back... #1 blogdaughter sends in this interesting story:

Va. collector squares off with his home country over rare, World War II rifle
Of all the weapons in his personal collection, Kristopher Gasior always cherished the wz.38M Maroszek rifle the most. The gun — one of only a handful in the world — came from Poland, his home country, and it was produced in the war that claimed his grandfather’s life.

But Gasior was not the only one with an interest in the military artifact. The Polish government views the Maroszek as a “great piece of cultural and scientific significance.” When Gasior, who had decided to sell most of his large collection, listed the weapon for sale on his Web site, Poland had U.S. federal agents seize it, arguing it had been stolen from the government during World War II.
It's an interesting argument, and I can't entirely disagree with their line of thinking. Since Poland was never a declared enemy of the US, the "bringback" laws don't apply. Since the rifle was property of the Polish Army, it's essentially that they're reclaiming property that was taken from them. Whether a USGI brought it back or not is immaterial, the Polish government claims; it was never eligible for status as a bringback.

Here's the rifle in question:

(picture from WaPost article)

Now, to me, it looks like an amalgam of the Remington Model 11, the M1 Garand, and the BAR, with a few unique elements thrown in like the vaguely PSL-ish long barrel with bayonet lug. Certainly an interesting weapon, and one that any collector of WWII vintage military hardware would salivate over. Now, the funny part here, to me, is that we have a genuine "assault rifle" - magazine-fed, semi-automatic, etc. - from 1938.

Mr. Gasior wanted $65K for the rifle, which is open to debate as to whether that's too much or not. For something as rare as this rifle, I'm inclined to think he's not being overly greedy, especially when he's got nearly $10K - in 1993 dollars - already invested. Of course, now it seems as though he'll get exactly jack and squat for it - since it's been seized by Homeland Security (anyone wanna explain THAT to me?), it's gone. I'd be shocked if it wasn't already in a museum in Poland.

I guess it's good that my milsurp collection consists of an old Turkish Mauser, two Mosin Nagants, and a Mannlicher Carcano...

That is all.


Angus McThag said...

Statute of limitations should apply for this BS.

Better yet, charge Germany for how much he's selling it for since he sure as shit didn't pick it up off a dead Pole!

.45ACP+P said...

looks a lot like my CZ-512! Just sayin'.....

Geodkyt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Geodkyt said...

It is a legitimate war trophy, taken by an Allied soldier from an enemy soldier.

Once the Germans captured them from the Poles, they became "German" arms. Just like all the German ordnance grabbed by Allied nations stopped being owned by Germany once it was surrendered or captured. You are allowed under the internationally accepted Laws of War to convert captured or surrendered enemy munitions to your own military purposes, including arms, ordnance, and general logistics. The only real restrictions on what you cannot do with enemy military equipment is if you get caught dressed up in their uniforms you're a "spy" not a POW, and you are not supposed to destroy medical supplies (including, BTW, your own) even to avoid their capture or recapture (if you just cannot haul them off, you are supposed to leave them behind for anyone, including the enemy or civilians, to come along and use them).

As horrific as many of the things Nazi Germany did are, grabbing the enemy-government owned battlefield guns of their enemies and reissuing them to German forces is neither legally, ethically, nor morally wrong. The fact that Germany did this on a scale normally associated with guerilla movements that don't have much (if any) of an indigenous arms manufacturing capacity is irrelevant.

If this was a private arm taken from its Polish owner (not captured on the battlefield or surrendered by a Polish guerilla) by a German soldier, that would arguably be "loot", and the Polish government would have a case. Because then it wouldn't be something grabbed as a legitimate piece of military ordnance, but the theft of personal property of value.

Just as we prosecuted Allied soldiers for raiding German hunting rifles and other personal valuables from private citizens.

It's all in the difference between legitimate confiscation and conversion of munitions by a belligerent power, and theft of non-military property by individual soldiers (or even the government in general; i.e., looting of Polish artwork both public and private by the Nazi government). You can take all their military guns and tanks, but you cannot take their fire trucks and personal property.

TigerStripe said...

It's not a true assault rifle because it is not selective fire and has a 10rd magazine. Just picking a nit.

Ceotalus said...

Lost it in a canoeing accident on Lake Superior That's my story and I'm stickin' to it