Hitler Silverware Auction Set on Net
By Helena de Moura
ATLANTA (Reuters) - An Internet auction of silverware believed to have belonged to Adolf Hitler drew criticism on Wednesday from the leader of a Jewish group who called public fascination with Hitler memorabilia "disturbing."
"This auction is very distasteful, we don't look at these pieces as treasures, we look at them as trash," Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Jay Kaiman told Reuters.
Fifty silverware pieces, monogrammed with a phoenix flaring out of Hitler's initials, are being auctioned by a prestigious Atlanta antique house, the Great Gatsby.
The sterling silver collection includes a martini shaker, a cigar box, and a lighter believed to have belonged to the Nazi Germany dictator.[*]
The pieces will be sold individually in an auction company's web site, www.gatsbys.com, from Nov. 12-18, and are advertised on the site as "one of the finest and most complete collections never before offered for sale."
Great Gatsby President Marie Kowalik said the pieces were found during a raid by American soldiers in Hitler's headquarters in Munich in 1945. An Atlanta GI was among the soldiers who carried out the raid, and brought the items to Atlanta.
The pieces were stored in an attic for nearly 55 years and offered for sale by the soldier's daughter, she said.
Gatsby advertises a wide variety of collectibles on its web site, including four original artworks by Picasso, singing group Bee Gees' Barry Gibb's Rolls Royce and the 16-mm master print of the Beatles' movie "Let It Be."
"There is nothing controversial about this," said Kowalik. "They are being auctioned just like another of our rare items."
Kaiman disputed that.
"These pieces would be worth more in a museum where they will have a sociological value, rather than have them distributed to the mass market," he said.
"I find it disturbing that there is a segment of the population that has a fascination for memorabilia that goes along with the fascination with the ideology that murdered 11 million people," he said.
* Website comment: Hitler, who neither smoke nor drank, must have really appreciated the Martini shaker and cigar box; "Made in Taiwan," one wonders?