Hitler paintings and sketches to be auctioned in Bavaria

Around 30 paintings and drawings signed "A. Hitler" and presumed to be the work of the Nazi dictator are due to go under the hammer at a Nuremberg auction house on Saturday.

Hitler paintings and sketches to be auctioned in Bavaria
An example of artwork said to be created by Hitler called 'Stadtansicht Gumpoldskirchen' auctioned in Nuremberg in 2016. Photo: DPA

The pictures — from watercolours of pastoral scenes to sketches of female nudes — will be sold at the German city's Weidler auction house, according to its website, which includes the listing of an Adolf Hitler “special auction” at the end of its sales catalogue.

SEE ALSO: Why German police have seized 'fake' Hitler watercolours

The works include pictures either “signed or monogrammed by A. Hitler” and other furnishings, it said. They are in a variety of styles and mediums.  

“The items come from Austrian or rather European private ownership, originally from famous artists of the 3rd Reich, from heirs or from the estates of collectors,” the catalogue says.

According to a report on the sale in the local Nurnberger Nachrichten newspaper the starting prices vary from €130 euros for a charcoal sketch, “Weinberg Monastery”, to €45,000 for a watercolour entitled “Ortschaft an Vorgebirgssee”, a scene of a village near a mountain lake.

SEE ALSO: What it's like to share a name with the world's most notorious dictator

The Nazi dictator, who committed some of the worst crimes in history, tried to enrol in the Vienna Academy of Arts twice as a young man but was rejected for lack of talent.

Hitler in the Reichstag on May 4th, 1941. Photo: Deutsches Bundesarchiv/WikiCommons

He continued painting, however, and copied landscapes from post cards which he sold to tourists.

The Nuremburg sale comes just two weeks after German police seized three watercolours presented as Hitler's works before they were due for auction in Berlin, claiming they were fakes. The Alpine and Rhenish landscapes were dated 1910 and 1911 and were signed A. Hitler and were offered by auction house Kloss.

As The Local reported, doubts were raised over if the signatures on the painting matched Hitler's handwriting at the time. It's also thought several 'fakes' were produced with the dictator's signature when he became a prominent dictator.

A 2015 auction of Hitler watercolours in Nuremberg fetched nearly €400,000. A painting of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria fetched the highest price in the lot, selling for €100,000.

SEE ALSO: Hitlers artwork under the hammer in Nuremberg

In Germany it is legal to sell paintings by Hitler so long as they do not contain Nazi symbols.

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German justice contaminated by Nazis in post-war years

Germany's justice system was still filled with former Nazis well into the 1970s, as the Cold War coloured efforts to root out fascists, according a damning official inquiry presented Thursday.

Professors Friedrich Kießling and Christoph Safferling present their report
Professors Friedrich Kießling and Christoph Safferling present their report "State Security in the Cold War". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

In the 600-page collection of findings entitled “State Security in the Cold War”, historian Friedrich Kiessling and legal scholar Christoph Safferling focused on the period from the early 1950s until 1974.

Their research found that between 1953 and 1959, around three in four top officials at the federal prosecutor’s office, which commissioned the report, had belonged to the Nazi party.

More than 80 percent had worked in Adolf Hitler’s justice apparatus, and it would take until 1972 before they were no longer in the majority.

“On the face of it they were highly competent lawyers… but that came against the backdrop of the death sentences and race laws in which they were involved,” said Margaretha Sudhof, state secretary at the justice ministry, unveiling the report.

“These are disturbing contradictions to which our country has long remained blind.”

‘Combat mission’

It was not until 1992, two years after Germany’s national reunification, that the last prosecutor with a fascist background left the office.

“There was no break, let alone a conscious break, with the Nazi past” at the federal prosecutor’s office, the authors concluded, stressing “the great and long continuity” of the functions held and “the high number” of officials involved in Hitler’s regime.

Chief federal prosecutor Peter Frank commissioned the study in 2017. The federal prosecutor’s office is one of Germany’s most powerful institutions, handling the most serious national security cases including those involving terrorism and espionage.

With more than 100 prosecutors, it is “the central actor in the fight against terror,” the report authors said, underlining its growing role in the decades since the September 11th, 2001 attacks in the United States.

The researchers were given unfettered access to hundreds of files labelled classified after the war, and found that rooting out alleged communists was often prioritised over other threats, including from the far right.

“In the 1950s the federal prosecutor’s office had a combat mission – not a legal but a political one: to pursue all the communists in the country,” the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said in a summary of the report.

‘Recycling’ Nazis

The fact that West Germany widely used former officials from the Nazi regime in its post-war administration had long been known.

For example, Hans Globke served as chief of staff and a trusted confidant to former conservative West German chancellor Konrad Adenauer between 1953 and 1963 and was responsible for recruitment to top posts.

However, Globke had also been a senior civil servant in the Nazi-era interior ministry and was involved in the drafting of the 1935 Nuremberg race laws that imposed the first dramatic restrictions on Jews.

In recent years, systematic digging into the past of key ministries and institutions has unearthed a troubling and previously hidden degree of “recycling” of Third Reich officials in the post-war decades.

A 2016 government report revealed that in 1957, more than a decade after the war ended, around 77 percent of senior officials at the justice ministry had been members of the Nazi party. That study, also carried out by Safferling, revealed that the number of former Nazis at the ministry did not decline after the fall of the regime but actually grew in the 1950s.

Part of the justification was cynical pragmatism: the new republic needed experienced civil servants to establish the West German justice system. Furthermore, the priorities of the Allies who won the war and “liberated” the country from the Nazis were quickly turned upside down in the Cold War context.

After seeking to de-Nazify West Germany after 1945, the aim quickly shifted to building a capitalist bulwark against the communist threat. That approach often meant turning a blind eye to Germans’ previous involvement in the Third Reich.

In recent years, Germany has embarked on a twilight attempt to provide justice for concentration camp victims, placing several former guards in their 90s on trial for wartime crimes.