The Crooked Cross: The Neo-Nazi Renaissance
by Harry von Johnston, PhD
In the main, fraud, counterfeiting and deceit are certainly immoral and very often felonious but in some instances, the essential ludicrous nature of some frauds manages to overcome the gravity.
Such is the case of the enormous industry devoted to the creation, manufacture and sale of faked items of German militaria and elevated personality items from the Third Reich period, purporting to belong to such people as Hitler and Hermann Goering.
There is an abiding fascination with the trappings of the Third Reich but the number of actual and original relics is much smaller than a burgeoning demand. Nature abhors a vacuum and if original pieces are no longer available, the vacuum is filled with creations to satisfy the demand.
Not only are legitimate pieces of German militaria copied and marketed, a number of outrageous fantasy pieces have also been created and merchandised like the Reverend Ernie’s Holy Healing Cloths on Christian television stations.
There is an interesting parallel here between the manufacture and sale of Nazi relics and the manufacture or misidentification of relics of the Catholic church.
In the latter we can find the knuckle bones of a pig being passed off as having once been a part of Saint Rosa of Compostella or the ever-popular St. Nicholas. Expert study has proven that the notorious Shroud of Turin is a 13th Century fake and it has been said that there are enough pieces of the True Cross around to build a small hotel.
Fraud and chicanery are the hallmarks of any marketplace, be it Wall Street, Carnaby Street or the Internet auctions.
It is amazing that so many of these neo-Nai fraud merchants are able to find either end of themselves in a dark room or, as the author’s sainted Granny used to say, ‘Too lazy to work, too stupid to steal and completely unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.”
The hallmark of the German military and personality collectors is, in the main, a fascination with a period they are constantly reminded is the very essence of terrible evil. In spite of countless reams of utter nonsense produced about German wickedness (as opposed to American, British or Russian asocial behavior) German items are far more in demand that anything else and of all the items most sought after and commanding the highest prices are relics of the awful SS.
So much for failed propaganda which has only made its sworn enemy so attractive.
One dealer bought the iron gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp from a Polish scrap dealer and tried to sell them to the American Holocaust Museum. They were most eager to obtain this dubious relic but on principle (or perhaps because of a lack of it) absolutely refused to pay for the massive entrance to the netherworld.. A tax-free gift would be much more to their liking but the greedy and uncharitable dealer merely cut the gates into small pieces and sold these off like souvenirs of the Berlin Wall (or fragments of the True Cross).
The author once spoke with a very wealthy dealer in Nazi fakes and he said, with some humor, that when he has had occasion to visit various highly prestigious military collections in the past as he walks down the line of glass cases filled with the cream of Third Reich militaria, such as Hitler’s dinnerware or Goering’s swords, he keeps hearing tiny voices that say, “Papa, papa!” as he passes.
Items which are purported to have belonged to Adolf Hitler are quite naturally, worth a great deal of money and Hitler fakes abound in the market place. It should be noted that Hitler wrote very few personal letters and signed almost nothing at all after the outbreak of the war. Such items as original caps, uniforms and the like are non-existent because Hitler ordered their destruction at the end of the war and in the main, this order was faithfully executed.
Hitler was 5 foot, 8.5 inches in height and weighed in the vicinity of 150 pounds. Any uniform alleged to be the property of Hitler would conform to these requirements. On the Party uniforms, the buttons on all items were silvered, but on the post-1939 uniforms, the buttons were gold.
Until 1938 Hitler wore the Iron Cross First Class and the black wound badge on the left hand pocket and, on some occasions (such as the ceremonial march in Munich on 9 November of each year) the Blutorden on the flap of the right breast pocket. After 1938, Hitler discarded the Blood Order ribbon and medal and added the Gold Party Badge on the left breast pocket, above the Iron Cross.
Hitler’s visor cap had a long, brown leather visor (worn because he was very sensitive to light) and the top piping of the cap was twisted gold cord. The lower two pipings were white, the cap band brown velvet and the cap cords in gold. The eagle was always embroidered directly into the cap as was the wreath, which was added after 1938.
Hitler’s uniforms were made by the Berlin military tailoring firm of Wilhelm Holters and his caps were made by Robert Lubstein of Berlin under the trade name of eReL. Contrary to amusing myths circulating after the war, Hitler did not wear a bullet-proof vest nor was there a steel liner in his cap.
In the First World War, Hitler won the Iron Crosses 1st and 2nd Classes, the Bavarian service medal, fourth class, the wound badge in black. As a member of the Bavarian army, did not wear any Austrian army decorations.
Hitler wore French-cuff shirts with gold links depicting the civic arms of the city of Danzig, the swastika motiv picked out in diamonds. Before the war, he wore a party eagle on his tie in solid gold, no wristwatch and no other jewelry.
Occasionally, gaudy pictures of Hitler’s mother, grotesque «ruby” rings and the like show up, allegedly Hitler’s property but all of these were birthday gifts and in all probability, never even seen by him. An alleged suicide pistol which has appeared in several publications is a fake. The Walther with the ivory grips once had the maker’s name, Carl Walther, and their post-war address in Ulm/Donau on the slide but this has since been replaced with the proper wartime address. in Zella-Mehlis. This piece was made by the Walther factory for Colonel James Atwood in the early 1960s as the still-extant serial number proves. It has been seen in many post-war militaria publications but its present whereabouts is unknown.
Hitler carried a Belgian Browiing 7.65mm pistol in his pant’s pocket and the right hand pocket of all of his trousers had a leather lining to hold the gun.
There are no surviving original Hitler paintings and sketches. Everyone from Konrad Kujau to Alfred Speer took a hand at copying Hitler’s style, with various degrees of success. Speer’s sketches come much closer to the mark as he was an architect and very familiar with Hitler’s style.
An example of the Speer drawings can be seen in a biography of Hitler by British writer, David Irving.
A book edited by Billy Price of Texas on Hitler’s artwork (Hitler as Maler und Zeichner) is crammed to the plimsoll line with fakes but is quite valuable in that it shows a very few known original Hitler pieces (those he himself authenticated before the war and marked as being from the NS archives. In the Price book, original Hitler pieces have the BA or Bundesarchiv numbers) with fakes. Hitler’s style is most distinctive and anyone with an eye for design can easily spot the hundreds of fakes.
Aside from some items held by the U.S. Army, no known original Hitler pieces exist in the United States and one of the largest collections in England is stuffed with fakes.
When Hitler joined the D.A.P. in 1919, his party number was 555, there being fifty five members and the numbers starting at 500 for propaganda reasons. When the Party was reorganized in later years, Hitler carried the number one and no medal or pin with the number seven is original.
In “Mein Kampf” Hitler indicates that he was the seventh member of the central committee and stupid forgers have seized on this to assume that he carried the party number of seven.
“Hitler silverware” was made up in some quantity and exists in two patterns; so-called formal and informal. This silver, which bears the state eagle and the letters A H was actually state silver and was used in governmental cafeterias. Reichskanzelei silver was marked R K.
It should be noted that all manner of State silver existed. One dealer in militaria claims to possess “Adolf Hitler’s” silver cigarette case. The price for this relic is somewhat less than the national debt of Mexico but since Hitler was a vehement non-smoker, the attribution is sadly in error.
Aside from personality items, yards of fake tapestries are offered, claimed to be from Hitler’s house or from Heinrich Himmler’s office and huge eagle and swastika bronze table decorations, jostle the auction house catalogs, cheek by jowl with oil paintings made in China of top level Nazi officials, fake dinnerware, honorary citizens awards, napkin rings engraved with Eva Braun’s initials, lavishly embroidered Hitler standards, copies of Mein Kampf with fake dedications and on and on.
Jewish holocaust professtionals and other left-wingers spend a good deal of time informing anyone bored enough to listen, that Hitler was an evil monster. And in spite of these fulminations, auction houses worldwide are reaping a huge profit from selling his counterfeit possessions