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Hitler's belongings go under the hammer in controversial auction

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: November 25, 2008

The initials AH engraved on cutlery owned by Hitler.

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EMBOSSED silver knives and forks and a signed painting belonging to Adolf Hitler are due to go under the hammer in Lostwithiel today.

Jeffery's Auctioneers received complaints from the Jewish community when it put 21 of the Nazi dictator's watercolour paintings up for sale in 2006.

Now, one of the paintings, which proved to be an unpopular present choice has been returned to the auction rooms by a woman in Hampshire.

Head auctioneer, Ian Morris said: "She told us her son gave it to her as a present, but that this was not something she wanted hanging on her wall.

"We get lots of people claiming to have Hitler paintings – but there are so many fakes out there – we would only sell something which had strong provenance to show evidence of ownership.

"It would be easy to refuse these kinds of sales but this picture was painted years before he became the disgusting beast we know him as.

"He tried two or three times unsuccessfully to apply for the Vienna School of Art. His style is quite naive, so easy to imitate."

The painting is of a church along the French-Belgium border and the paint and paper has been dated back to the First World War when Hitler was stationed as a foot soldier.

The scenes in the collection of paintings discovered in an attic in Belgium, have all been verified as real places in a 15- mile radius of where Hitler was posted – near Quesnoy.

Jeffrey's 2006 sale was thrown into disarray when a Hitler impersonator interrupted the proceedings by goose-stepping with a Nazi salute.

Before the auctioneers and bidders could grasp what had happened, another man stood up shouting and demanding that proceeds from the sale be given to Jewish people.

Mr Morris, 46, said the Hitler sales are the most controversial he has ever made.

The private silver cutlery embossed with the initials; A H, were liberated from Hitler's house in Berechtesgaden by American soldiers who had closed down concentration camps at the end of the Second World War.

They were so impressed by the leadership of Brigadeer General Charles R Doran they presented him with Adolf Hitler's silver. It was General Doran's grand-daughter who contacted Jeffery's. She explained the story but did not want to be named.

She said: "My grandfather was sent to co-ordinate the release and stabilisation of the thousands of people held in several concentration camps.

"My grandfather had his personal photographer assigned to him and our family used to be in possession of official military photos of these camps and the emaciated prisoners.

"But years ago my mother destroyed them because they were so harsh and disturbing to look at."

The cutlery stayed in the back of the silver cupboard, and was passed down to the grand-daughter, who sent Mr Morris newspaper cuttings about General Doran's service.

The three sets of knives and forks are each expected to make £300, the single knife, £200, and the set of six monogrammed pastry forks is estimated to fetch £700.

Mr Morris said: "The kind of people who bid for this are people who want to own something different.

"Some people cannot understand why we would auction these things but actually they represent a part of history. We should remember the things in history which we did wrong."

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