With the public's desire for World War II artifacts already hot, a new find that symbolizes the world's appeasement of Adolf Hitler is about to explode on to the historical auction market.
Our friends at Alexander Historical Auctions reveal today that they plan to auction off Hitler's solid cast brass desk set, prominently adorned with his "AH" initials, used to sign the Munich Pact. The desk set, designed by Hitler and never before offered for sale, is expected to fetch $500,000-$750,000 at the auction December 8-9. . [Read: The Left's Limited Outrage at Hitler Comparisons.]
"This is a museum-grade relic of great historical importance," says Bill Panagopulos, president of Alexander Historical Auctions and Alexander Autographs. The firm is based in Connecticut and conducts its auctions live and simultaneously online.
The Munich Pact was signed in 1938 by Hitler, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, Italy's Benito Mussolini and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier. It gave Hitler control of part of Czechoslovakia in return for his promise not to push further in any war. What's more, Chamberlain used the occasion to also get a peace pact with Hitler, which the Brit called "Peace for our time."
Of course the appeasement effort failed, Chamberlain forever became a blemish on British history and Hitler went on to attack all of those countries. [ Read: Mengele Nazi Diaries Could Fetch $1 million.]
The desk set is just one of several sensational Nazi-era items up for sale. Others include details of a secret post-war plan by ex-Nazis, the Vatican and even U.S. officials to form an army to repel any Soviet invasion of West Germany, and Albert Einstein's signed copy of his 1939 letter to F.D.R. suggesting that science could use atomic fission to create "extremely powerful bombs of a new type."
Panagopulos says that the market for World War II era items is white hot and that artifacts as valuable as the Hitler desk set are rare and valuable.
The desk set has been owned since the war by American John McConn who, as an Army lieutenant, was assigned to guard art discovered at Hitler's offices at the end of the war.
In and around the office, officials found valuable art, gold and weapons made for Hitler. In the basement of the building, McConn discovered the desk set, thought it a nice souvenir, and sent it home to Texas.
Over the years, he hasn't considered selling it. Instead he let his kids take it to school for show and tell, says Panagopulos.
Here's how the auctioneer describes the desk set:
"The massive ceremonial presentation measures 24" wide, 14 3/4" deep and 1 3/4" tall, with two columned ink wells rising 2" above the base of the desk set. The ink wells are filled with solid glass, each bearing an opening which at one time either held a smaller ink cup, or was itself filled with ink. Between the two wells appears in high relief Hitler's initials 'A H' beneath and flanking a large eagle facing to its left (symbolizing the Nazi Party vs. the military) which in turn clutches in its talons a wreath encircling a swastika. A raised rectangle beneath all supports a large, impressive brass blotter with a knurled knob, similar in design to the colonnaded ink wells. The underside of the set is lined in fine finished mahogany. In all, the desk set gives one the impression of an architectural model, thus in our opinion the set was designed by Hitler, who prided himself on his architectural acumen. Photographic research shows that this desk set was undoubtedly used at the signing of the Munich Pact on September 30, 1938."