It has been reported that an autographed copy of Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler’s autobiographical manifesto, has sold at auction in Los Angeles for the sum of $64,850.
The two cloth-bound books, which were first and second volumes of the famous work, were dated 1925 and 1926. Inside was a message in the Nazi leader’s handwriting addressed to Josef Bauer, an SS officer and early member of the Nazi party. Hitler’s message was a greeting to Bauer sending him his best wishes for the Christmas holiday.
The online bidding for the controversial tomes began at $20,000 and received altogether 11 bids before the auction ended Thursday night. It is unknown who the anonymous American purchaser of the books was.
It was originally expected that the pair of books would fetch only around $20,000 to $25,000, according to the auctioneer, Nate Sanders, owner of Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles. The same pair of books sold for $25,000 in a 2012 auction at Bonhams auction house in London.
According to Sanders, copies of Mein Kampf from the 1930s are actually very common. They were popular as wedding gifts during that time. Signed copies, however, are quite rare.
While selling items connected to the Nazis is forbidden in many European countries and considered by some to be quite heinous, Sanders defends the practice saying many collectors of Nazi memorabilia are history buffs. He notes that the same people who collect Hitler items are also those who collect other historical items from the period. Sanders, who is himself Jewish, adds that it is not just white supremacists who collect Hitler memorabilia; some collectors are also Jewish.
Hitler penned Mein Kampf, a title which translates as “My Struggle,” after he was jailed for his role in a failed 1923 putsch attempt. It deals with Hitler’s bitter feelings against the Jewish faith and communism. The book is considered to be one of the most racist books written in modern times.
In the two-volume set, Hitler describes his dream for a resurgent Germany following World War I, as well as his Nationalist Socialist political ideology.
While many things related to the Nazis, such as insignia and some films and songs, are banned in Germany, Mein Kampf is not. Its copyright is owned by Bavaria, but printing and selling of the book is prohibited.
In addition to the autographed copy of Mein Kampf, Sanders is also going to be auctioning a leather trench coat worn by Albert Speer, a Nazi government minister who was given a 20-year prison sentence during the Nuremberg trials for the role that he played during the Holocaust.
Sanders says an Allied soldier found the coat and stole it, along with a necklace, as war trophies. The soldier, who signed his name as “Ralph” in a letter to his mother, wrote home that he had a gold necklace he had found in a German home for his mother as well as a leather jacket for his father. The way that he was able to identify the coat as Speer’s was through a receipt written out to Speer that was found in the coat’s pocket.
By Nancy Schimelpfening