UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

US Special Envoy alerted to Auction of Nazi Items in Maryland

UKLFI has attempted to stop an auction house in Chesapeake City, Maryland, USA from selling memorabilia and household  items that had belonged to Hitler and other Nazis.  UKFLI has written to Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, the US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, seeking her assistance.  The auction is due to take place on 28 and 29 July 2022.

The auction includes several personal effects of Adolf Hitler and other prominent figures in the Nazi Party. Amongst the items for sale are Hitler’s champagne, cordial and schnapps glasses, all decorated with a Nazi eagle and his initials, designed by Hitler himself, along with his silver napkin ring, embossed with a Nazi eagle, swastika and his initials. The golden eagle from his bedroom is for sale, along with his gold watch, which has a price estimate of $4m. One bid has already been received for $1m.  There are also many printed documents and letters related to the Nazis.

Another item on sale is a schnapps set belonging to Sepp Deitrich who is described in the catalogue as “Hitler’s chauffeur and bodyguard but received rapid promotion after his participation in the Night of the Long Knives. Commanded 6th Panzer Army in the Battle of the Bulge. Sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for the execution of American P.O.W.s during the offensive.”

UKLFI has asked Prof. Lipstadt to assist as the US Government may have legal grounds to object to the sale. UKLFI has pointed out that the US Government may own tangible or intellectual property rights in relation to some of the objects. Prof. Lipstadt has passed UKLFI’s letter on to the US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues for appropriate consideration.

Many of the items bear trademarks, text or pictures in which US intellectual property rights may have been  expropriated by the US government during or after the 2nd World War. In addition, articles collected by US troops should have been delivered to the US government.  For example Hitler’s gilded glass candy dish as well as his glasses are described in the auction catalogue as having been recovered by an American soldier from the Berghof, as was the champagne glass.

Caroline Turner, director of UKFLI said “We believe that the sale of these items is an abhorrence.  This auction will enthuse white supremacists and neo-nazis who idolize what the Nazi party stood for. It will offer such people the chance to own an item that once belonged to a genocidal murderer and his supporters.  The auction should not be allowed on moral as well as legal grounds.”

UKLFI has also co-signed a letter to the Auction House, Alexander Historical Auctions, prepared by the European Jewish Association, which brought the matter to UKLFI’s attention.