Nazi Goering's Mercedes surfaces in North Carolina

Aug. 27, 2013 at 3:42 PM
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BERLIN, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- A car collector in North Carolina says the rare Mercedes-Benz he recently bought once belonged to Nazi commander Hermann Goering.

The car, a Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet, is extremely rare, with fewer than 200 made before 1939. A pair of men recently tracked it down to a private owner in North Carolina and purchased it for an undisclosed amount.

The car is reportedly worth millions, its newest owner David Rathburn said.

In addition to its rarity, Rathburn said several documents point to it having once been owned by Goering, the Nazi Luftwaffe commander who was later convicted of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials.

Documents from the original sale contain a serial number Rathburn says matches the one imprinted on the car. It lists the purchaser as the German Luftwaffe, der Spiegel reported. Photographs of Goering participating in Nazi parades and rallies in what appears to be the car in question have been unearthed.

In the last days of the European portion of World War II, Rathburn said the car was confiscated by a U.S. Army colonel. It was later taken by another high-ranking American military commander who had it shipped to the United States. From there it changed hands an unknown number of times before a man named Dick Taylor bought it.

Taylor sold it to Rathburn and a partner.

Rathburn said he's working to validate the car's authenticity.

He told der Spiegel his silent partner is Jewish and the two are committed to ensuring it doesn't fall into the hands of a Nazi memorabilia collector. A portion of the sale proceeds will be donated to a Jewish charity, Rathburn said.

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