Ownership Of Hitler's Gifts Investigated

A rare collection of gifts apparently given to Adolf Hitler are now in a climate controlled area of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s evidence room. There’s a document in a wood case, a hand illustrated book of Henry the Lion, a leather box with swastikas and a metal cylinder. The collection came into the custody of the Sheriff from a twisted trail that begins in Bavaria near the end of World War II.

A Utah man who Sheriff’s investigators decline to identify apparently took the gifts from Hitler’s alpine retreat – a complex of homes and buildings on a mountainside overlooking Austria. The Berghof was Hitler’s residence in the compound.

In the spring of 1945, the allies made Berghof a primary target. Soldiers from France as well as both the 3rd Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne converged on what was seen as the “heart” of the 3rd Reich. Hitler spent as much time conferring with his generals at the Berghof as he did in Berlin. Some even say Hitler believed the area had mystic powers because of its history. Whatever the reason, its importance to Hitler made it an important target for the allies.

The Utah man returned home with his “souvenirs” after the war and put them away. According to investigators he never showed them to his family. Family members didn’t discover them until after his death nor did they have them for long. The collection disappeared from a storage unit in 2005.

It reappeared in the possession of a local antiquities dealer. Detectives do not believe the dealer was involved nor had any knowledge of the theft from the storage unit. However, he brought in a historian to assess the collection’s value, and it was then determined it was probably stolen and the Sheriff’s Office was brought in to investigate.

Now the question is this: Where does the collection belong? Unless the family can show some sort of proof that their father was the legitimate owner, investigators won’t return it to them. It’s certainly does not belong to the antiquities dealer. So who will get it? “That’s something we have yet to determine,” says Deputy Scott VanWagoner.

It may become an international question with museums, libraries and nations making a claim. For the moment, Sheriff’s investigators are focused on who took the Hitler gift collection from that storage unit and what happen to a couple other items in the collection that are still missing.

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