Hitler's top hat up for auction in Germany

MUNICH (Reuters) - Nazi memorabilia including Hitler’s top hat and a cocktail dress worn by his companion Eva Braun is going under the hammer at a German auction house, drawing calls from the Jewish community to stop a sale it deems immoral.

The collection features items such as the cigar case of Nazi air force commander Hermann Goering, Nazi military accolades, banners and knives, and a silver cased copy of Hitler’s political treatise “Mein Kampf”.

The collection is expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of euros. The asking price for Hitler’s hat alone is 50,000 euros ($55,325) and the price tag for the deluxe copy of “Mein Kampf” that belonged to Goering is 130,000 euros.

Bernhard Pacher, managing director of Hermann Historica, said the auction house had been flooded with emails from individuals condemning the online sale that started on Wednesday.

“We have had one friendly e-mail saying they see it the way we do, meaning these are historical objects,” said Pacher, whose auctions cover a range of objects, not just Nazi items.

“But 99% of the emails we received included very bad insults where history is reduced to claiming we are just greedy neo-Nazis.”

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, urged Pacher in a letter this month to withdraw the auction, saying the artifacts would be bought by individuals seeking to glorify Nazism.

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“This is not a legal appeal to you, but very much a moral one,” wrote Margolin. “What you are doing is not illegal, but it is wrong.”

Pacher said most buyers from the auction house were usually museums, especially in Asia and the United States where cultural institutions have deep pockets.

“The remaining 20 percent of customers are private collectors or authors of historical books who need the objects for their books,” he said. “The fate of each good collection in the long-run is to end up in a museum.”

Three years ago, trousers with leather pockets worn by Hitler and a brass container that held the cyanide used by a top deputy to commit suicide were among a trove of Nazi memorabilia sold by Hermann Historica.

The owner or owners of the collection for sale from Wednesday was not revealed under German privacy rules.

Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Alison Williams