An Argentinian man has purchased more than 50 items of Nazi memorabilia from a controversial auction in Munich. The single purchase, said to have totaled more than $683, 000 (£462,000), included a jacket owned by Adolf Hitler and silk underwear that once belonged to Nazi military leader Hermann Goering.
Though the event was closed to press following public outcry, the items under the hammer were sold under the theme, “Hitler and the Nazi Grandees — a look into the abyss of evil,” and hailed from the private collection of John K. Latimer, the physician at the Nuremberg trials.
According to Bild, 50 people attended the auction of more than 169 Nazi relics. An undercover journalist from the German newspaper reported the room was filled with young couples, elderly men, and muscular men with shaved heads and tribal tattoos. The buyer reportedly used the number 888 — the neo-Nazi code for “Heil Hitler” — to make his purchases. One of the items he bought was a brass container Goering used to kill himself with hydrogen cyanide.
The resurgence of the far-right
The unsettling auction comes amid a concerning surge in the far-right across Europe. A toxic combination of economic instability and the worst refugee crisis since World War II has seen the resurgence of the dangerous ideology across the continent, from Athens to Austria — and most places in between.
Last week, an Italian newspaper was heavily criticised after publishing Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto, Mein Kampf (My Struggle). Conservative Milan daily, Il Giornale, gave the book free to those who purchased the newspaper and is also publishing volumes exploring Third Reich history.
The situation is more unnerving in Germany. Considering the spike in xenophobic attacks against refugees in Western Europe’s most populous nation, Hitler’s political treatise has not only made a comeback, but has also become a bestseller. By April, the new academically-annotated version of the ultra-nationalist, anti-semitic treatise made its way onto Germany’s influential Spiegel bestseller list, where it remained for several weeks. Although many bookshops do not have the book on display and order it by request only, it now stands in 14th place.
For 70 years, the Finance Ministry of the State of Bavaria exercised Hitler’s intellectual property rights. In doing so, it prevented republication of the book, which outlines his political ideology. Since the copyright ended at the end of 2015, it has sold thousands of copies. Earlier this year, the dictator’s personal copy sold for more than $20,000 to an American buyer.
As tensions continue to mount across Europe, it appears the success of the notorious book by Hitler serves as a reflection of such extremism.