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HITLER

Five ‘Hitler’ paintings to be auctioned in Nuremberg

Five paintings attributed to Adolf Hitler will be auctioned off on Saturday in the German city of Nuremberg, sparking anger that the Nazi memorabilia market is alive and well.

Five 'Hitler' paintings to be auctioned in Nuremberg
The Hitler signature on one of the watercolours, several of which were withdrawn on Thursday. Photo: picture alliance / Gregor Fischer / dpa
Nuremberg's mayor Ulrich Maly has condemned the upcoming sale as being “in bad taste,” speaking to Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
   
Among the items to go under the hammer are a mountain lake view with a starting price of 45,000 euros ($51,000) and a wicker armchair with a swastika symbol presumed to have belonged to the late Nazi dictator.
   
The Weidler auction house is holding the “special sale” in Nuremberg, the city in which Nazi war criminals were tried in 1945.
   
The auction made headlines days before its  start after several artworks were withdrawn on Thursday on suspicion they were fakes and prosecutors stepped in.
   
Sales of alleged artworks by Hitler — who for a time tried to make a living as an artist in his native Austria — regularly spark outrage that collectors are willing to pay high prices for art linked to the country's Nazi past.
   
“There's a long tradition of this trade in devotional objects linked to Nazism,” Stephan Klingen of the Central Institute for Art History in Munich told AFP.
 
“Every time there's a media buzz about it… and the prices they're bringing in have been rising constantly. Personally, that's something that quite annoys me.”
 
'Ambitious amateur'
 
In Germany, public displays of Nazi symbols are illegal but exceptions can be made, in educational or historic contexts for instance. To comply with the law, the auction house pixellated the swastikas on the wicker chair and a blue-and-white Meissen porcelain vase in catalogue photos, and has covered them up on-site.
   
But none of the paintings include any of the totalitarian party's insignias.
   
According to Klingen, Hitler had the style of “a moderately ambitious amateur” but his creations did not stand out from “hundreds of thousands” of comparable works from the period — making their authenticity especially hard to verify.
   
A haul of 26 pieces originally featured in the catalogue have been removed from sale after suspicions were raised that they might be fakes.
   
The watercolours, drawings and paintings bearing “Hitler” signatures featured views of Vienna or Nuremberg, female nudes and still lifes, the auction house said. They were offered by 23 different owners. 
   
Prosecutors on Wednesday collected 63 artworks from the Weidler premises bearing the signature “A.H.” or “A. Hitler”, including some not slated to go under the hammer Saturday.
   
The Nuremberg-Fuerth prosecutor's office said it had opened an investigation against persons unknown “on suspicion of falsifying documents and attempted fraud”, chief prosecutor Antje Gabriels-Gorsolke told AFP.
   
“If they turn out to be fakes, we will then try to determine who knew what in the chain of ownership,” she said.
   
Weidler said in a statement that the paintings' withdrawal from sale “does not automatically mean they are fakes”.

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HITLER

Saxony police probe motorcycling ‘Hitler’

German police said they were investigating after a man dressed as Adolf Hitler rode around a weekend festival in a motorbike sidecar, although he provoked more amusement than outrage.

Saxony police probe motorcycling 'Hitler'
Front of a motorcycle. Photo: DPA

“When people dress up as Adolf Hitler, an investigation is always necessary,” a spokesman for Saxony police told news agency DPA on Monday.

The fake Führer appeared at a classic motorcycle gathering in Augustusburg, near Chemnitz, and was seen in videos of the event posted online.

He sported a toothbrush moustache and was seated in the sidecar of a bike driven by a man dressed as a 1940s-era soldier, complete with World War II-style helmet.

READ ALSO: Outrage grows over Hitler masks on sale in Prague

People are heard laughing as the pair pass by and a policeman guarding the event pulls out his phone with a smile to take photos.

The officer could now face consequences for his failure to step in.

“We would have expected our colleague to put a stop to all this without the least hesitation,” the Saxony police spokesman said.

The officer seen laughing at the impersonator was summoned for a meeting with his superiors and has “acknowledged his misconduct”, a spokesman for the local Chemnitz police told AFP on Tuesday.

Saxony premier Michael Kretschmer also condemned the Hitler pantomime.

“Dressing up as a mass murderer is more than just bad taste,” he tweeted. “This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and shouldn't be repeated.”

Around 1,800 motorcyclists and 7,500 visitors took part in the weekend classic bike festival in Saxony, a region in former communist East Germany that has made headlines for far-right and neo-Nazi activities in recent years.

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