BERLIN — A buyer who said he came from Argentina spent over 600,000 euros on Nazi memorabilia, including one of Adolf Hitler’s uniform jackets, at a controversial auction in Germany, a report said Monday.
The mystery buyer, dressed in dark clothes and wearing a baseball cap, spent 275,000 euros ($312,000) on the jacket alone and 3,000 euros for a set of Hermann Goering’s silken underwear, among over 50 items he purchased, reported Bild daily.
Using the number “888,” the man outbid others on most items and dominated the Munich auction, reported Bild, which had sent an undercover reporter to the event that was formally closed to the press following a public outcry.
The number evokes the neo-Nazi code “88” that marks the eighth letter of the alphabet and stands for the banned greeting “Heil Hitler.”
Last week the Central Council of Jews in Germany had appealed to the auction house Hermann Historica to cancel the event, charging it was “scandalous and disgusting” to make money with Nazi relics in such an auction.
Bild reported that the room was filled with “young couples, elderly men, and muscular guys with shaved heads and tribal tattoos.”
The top bidder also bought the brass container that Goering, the founder of the Gestapo secret police and air force chief, used to kill himself with hydrogen cyanide two hours before his scheduled execution in 1946 in Nuremberg.
When the Bild reporter asked the top bidder who he was, the man reportedly replied in Spanish-accented English that he came “from Argentina” and had bought the items “for a museum,” but declined to give his name.
The items — sold under the theme “Hitler and the Nazi grandees – a look into the abyss of evil” — were formerly owned by the late US army medic John K. Lattimer, who was in charge of monitoring the health of Nazi war criminals on trial in Nuremberg.
German law prohibits the open display and distribution of Nazi objects, slogans and symbols, but not their purchase or ownership, for example by researchers and collectors.
Numerous Nazi fugitives fled to Argentina after World War II, including Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann and death camp doctor Josef Mengele.