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Description: Unique Prison Photographs from the Nuremburg Trials

  • Condition: Photo of Speer has staple holes at top where it was once attached to a prison document.
  • Notes: While it is certainly a truism that it is the victors who get to write history, there is still not much that could be said in the defence of the Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess and the Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer at the Nuremberg War Trials. Both were prominent figures in the Nazi Central Command but yet both survived the death penalty that befell many of their colleagues for their “crimes against humanity.” Hess was probably spared because he was ‘as mad as a hatter’ and not because he sat out the nasty end of the war in various British prisons (including the Tower of London) having parachuted into Scotland in 1941 to broker a peace with what he thought were the like-minded British. And Speer because he was able to successfully adopt the ‘Sergeant Schultz’ defence – “I know nothing.” As the Minister responsible for War Production he admitted to using slave labour in Germany’s munitions factories, but he was adamant at his trial that he knew nothing of the systematic annihilation of the Jewish race i.e. the ”Final Solution” which was revealed to the party faithful by Heinrich Himmler at the Posen Conference in 1943 with Speer in attendance. In private correspondence he later admitted that he did in fact ‘know’, but having been spared the hangman’s noose Speer went on to amass a considerable fortune from the royalties generated by ‘tell-all’ books on the Third Reich that he wrote while in custody and, which were snapped up by a voyeuristic public when published on his release. Some say his fortunes were also augmented by the proceeds of art works stolen during the war that he secretly put though the London salerooms. On Speers release in 1966, having completed a 20-year sentence, Hess remained as the sole inmate at Spandau Prison until his suspicious death by suicide in 1987 at the age of 93. The file mugshots of prisoners Hess and Speer taken at the Nuremberg trials were transferred to Spandau Prison in 1947 with the inmates. They were eventually souvenired by the American Colonel Burton C. Andrus and passed on to the Australian author Desmond Zwar in 1968. They were accompanied by a small collection of documents (all copies) and some original photographs of Hess and his cell which were secretly taken by the US Director of Spandau Prison, Colonel Eugene K. Bird, as well as a copy in part of a report speculating on the mental health of Hess dated 20 May, 1948. Desmond Zwar wrote: ‘On November 8, 1945, the grim gates of Germany’s Nuremberg Prison opened to admit Hitler’s colleagues, Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer. Hess, Hitler’s former Deputy, who had flown to Scotland four years before, looked gaunt and black-browed, wearing a Luftwaffe greatcoat and had a mad stare in his eyes. The Nazis were formally greeted by Colonel Burtun C. Andrus, a no-nonsense soldier who remembered clearly (that) “on the way to the interview room, I was walking with Hess and his guard when I noticed Goering being brought along the corridor. Hess immediately recognised Goering, stopped, and threw up his arm in the Nazi salute. Goering looked surprised, but did not return the salute, which had been banned in the prison. I told Hess: ‘Do not salute like that again! It will not be tolerated. In this prison it is a vulgar gesture.’ “He stared back at me with his deep-set black eyes. ‘The Nazi salute,’ he said evenly, ‘is not vulgar.’ ” Andrus told Hess: “It is I who decide the nature of greetings in Nuremberg Prison. Interview with Hess over, it was time for the prison photographer to take the official ‘mug-shots’ – face on and side on – of the top Nazis. Hess, cadaverous and unshaven stared into the lens. Speer wore a look of calm resignation.’ In our Sale we offer the infamous original mug shots of Rudolf Hess and Albert Speer from the Nuremberg Trials.
  • Provenance: World War II
  • Exhibited: Collectibles
  • Literature: 638
  • Medium: Military & Wartime

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September 22, 2019, 12:00 PM AEST

Timed Auction

Paddington, Sydney, Australia

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