Hitler artifact could bring $1 million

Feb. 7, 2011 at 3:20 PM
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SAN DIEGO, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A California dealer preparing to auction the inkwell desk set used by Adolf Hitler to sign the disastrous 1938 Munich Pact says it could fetch $1 million.

Craig Gottlieb, a man of Jewish descent who trades in Nazi memorabilia from an office in Solana Beach, says the set has historical significance beyond other items he's dealt with, including Hitler's first Nazi ID card and Benito Mussolini's fez.

"That's basically the surface upon which the fate of nations was decided," he told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Signed by Hitler, Mussolini, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier, the Munich pact gave the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia to Germany in hopes it would appease Hitler and stop his pursuit of conquest.

Nazi Germany invaded Poland less than a year later.

Gottlieb, who sells mainly World War II items with a focus on Nazi artifacts, was born to Jewish parents and says he had family members who died in the Nazi genocide.

In reconciling his background with his chosen line of work, Gottlieb says he is preserving history.

He has been to the Nazi concentration camps of Dachau and Sachsenhausen, he says.

"You go to one of those places and you sort of start to question what you do, even though I don't have a problem with what I do," he said. "A human being walks into a place like that, that's where this stuff really gets put in context."

Gottlieb, who is selling the desk set on behalf of its current owner in Houston, says that while he would sell it to a collector he hopes a museum buys it.

Tammie Gillies, regional director of the San Diego Anti-Defamation League, said she also would like to see a museum purchase the piece.

"We hope that the kind of item such as this desk set won't be used to glorify hate but will be used to help remind people of the hate and anti-Semitism of those times," she said.

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