Boom in demand for relics from the Third Reich

US auction house expects bids in excess of $300,00 as memorabilia attracts new wave of buyers

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The Independent Online

The 1,133 lots include Adolf Hitler's secret accounts book, some of Joseph Goebbels' love letters and hundreds of original yellow "Jew stars" that millions were forced to wear before being sent to Nazi death camps. The macabre items are part of a huge collection of Nazi memorabilia which started going under the hammer in the American town of Stamford, Connecticut, yesterday, attracting bids expected to be in excess of $300,000.

The auction is evidence of a global boom in the Nazi relics trade which appears to be expanding apace as the horrors of the Second World War recede into history and an adverse economic climate increases an appetite for material assets.

Bill Panagopulos, the Greek-American owner of Stamford's Alexander auction house which is organising the sale, makes no apologies: "People want souvenirs – I would even sell Hitler's moustache," he joked in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel.

His buyers range from nouveau riche Russians and private historians to wealthy Jewish bidders who purchase historically important memorabilia for museums.

"We don't get neo-Nazis – they have neither the brains nor the money," Mr Panagopulos insisted.

The items up for sale include a statement written by Hitler's Armaments Minister, Albert Speer, at the start of the Nuremberg war crimes trial, valued at $10,000. The collection also runs to disturbingly banal knick-knacks such as a wooden plaque bearing the image of flying ducks, which turns out to be the first prize for a wild-fowl hunting competition organised by the commander of Dachau.

However the objects expected to attract some of he highest bids are a bronze desk set, complete with inkwells and blotter, that Hitler is thought to have used to sign the Munich agreement of 1938, the Nazi leader's secret accounts book and items which once belonged to the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels.

Mr Panagopulos says that a rash of films about the Second World War have fuelled demand for such memorabilia. But, on a personal level, he says he dislikes being surrounded by Nazi relics. He complains they give him "bad karma", not least because his parents' village was burned down during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

For sale: The Nazi catalogue

1. Signed rally photo Signed by the Hitler Youth leader Arthur Axmann. $150-200.

2. Hitler letters A pair of letters from Hitler to a young admirer Klara Jung. $7,000-8,000.

3. Goebbels' diary A journal from Joseph Goebbels' school years. $2,500-3,500.

4. Hitler's ledger The personal account book includes payments for art work and "blood money". $5,000-7,000.

5. Goebbels' letters Eighty-two handwritten love letters from the Jewish school teacher Else Janke to Joseph Goebbels. $7,000-9,000.