Nazi Memorabilia Boom: 'The People Want Souvenirs'

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Next, he was involved with fellow student Anka Stalherm, but this relationship, too, ended in rancor. Goebbels blamed his girlfriend for a "terrible time," and in 1921 Stalherm's lawyer sent him angry letters, demanding the return of various gifts.

Else Janke, another girlfriend, whose mother was Jewish, expressed disappointment following a quarrel "about the race question" in 1923. "I couldn't shake my thoughts about it and really very nearly saw in the problem an obstacle to our continued life together," she wrote.

Owning a Piece of History These words won't necessarily rewrite world history. They're small footnotes compared to the entire biography of the man who paved the way for the Holocaust with his rants against Jews. Goebbels left behind thousands of pages of documents, and the Federal Archive already holds copies of many of the letters.

But in the world of document collectors, that's an insignificant point. For them, the important thing is to be among those to possess some of the original documents from the time in question, and the more closely the documents are connected to the major players and the centers of power, the better.

Correspondingly, the auctioneer sensed a business opportunity even in a bound accounting book that notes large sums paid for items such as "health care" or "aid, donations and support." The book records payments to Hitler's personal physicians Theodor Morell and Karl Brandt, and to functionaries such as Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, who received a payment of 764,000 Reichsmarks. The last entry bears a date from mid-April, 1945. The book could be an original from the Reich Chancellery, a duplicate, or even a fake, although many of the regime's funding allocations are supported by evidence elsewhere.

Historians would surely like a chance to compare the accounting book to these other documents, but it's unclear whether they'll ever get a chance to see it. The auction house, which is advertising the item as "Hitler's personal account book," has set the starting price between $5,000 and $7,000.

Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein

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