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Md. auctioneer says he will sell Hitler’s copy of ‘Mein Kampf’

Adolf Hitler's personal copy of "Mein Kampf"(PRNewsFoto/Alexander Historical Auctions,)

This book is being sold as Adolf Hitler’s personal copy of “Mein Kampf” (PRNewsFoto/Alexander Historical Auctions,)

A Maryland auction house plans to offer a copy of “Mein Kampf,” which it says once belonged to Adolf Hitler, for sale next week.

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC, which is based in Chesapeake City, will offer the book during its Spring 2016 historical militaria auction, set for March 17 and 18.

This copy of the book bears an inscription that says it was taken from Hitler’s apartment in Munich in 1945. An auction listing for the item says it has “the most solid provenance” and estimates the value to be between $12,000 and $15,000, but auctioneer Bill Panagopulos said in an interview Monday that it may sell for as much as $25,000.

“It depends on who shows up for the big game,” Panagopulos said. “It takes two people to make an auction.”

The soldiers who found Hitler's copy of "Mein Kampf"(PRNewsFoto/Alexander Historical Auctions,)

This inscription is found inside a book being sold as Hitler’s copy of “Mein Kampf” (PRNewsFoto/Alexander Historical Auctions,)

Eleven officers from an American field artillery unit signed the first page after they went trophy-hunting in Hitler’s apartment at the war’s end, according to Panagopulos. The 1927 edition is bound in red leather and has the title in gold print attached to its spine; it’s rare and was not available to the general public, the listing in Alexander Historical Auctions’s catalog says.

“This is not a trade copy,” Panagopulos said. “It’s a very special edition. It’s one I’ve never seen before.”

A 2015 letter of provenance from a woman states that her father, a soldier, brought this book home with him after the war, according to the site. Panagopulos said her name was rather common and that he was unable to locate her.

Inside the book, the signatures of 11 soldiers can be found underneath the inscription. “I did find a few of the soldiers who signed in the records,” Panagopulos said. “So nobody made it up.”

Panagopulos says the handwriting of the signatures are consistent with that period; additionally, people of the time would have spelled Adolf as “Adolph” as it appears in the inscription. “It makes sense,” Panagopulos said. “It’s right.” If someone were trying to defraud the public, it would look more elaborate than this, he said.

More than 1,000 other historical items from World War II are to to be offered in the auction next week. Other personal possessions of Hitler’s to be offered include etched drinking glasses, engraved table silver, books from his library at the chancellery in Berlin and signed documents and photographs.

Some other items for sale in the auction include a file on Dutch civilians who turned Jews in for bounty payments and concentration camp letters and documents.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum describes “Mein Kampf” as “Part autobiography and part political treatise, it promotes the key components of Nazism: rabid antisemitism, a racist world view, and an aggressive foreign policy geared to gaining Lebensraum (living space) in eastern Europe.”

While the contents of the book may be off-putting, Panagopulos said the item has historical value.

Bill Panagopulos. (Submitted photo)

Bill Panagopulos. (Submitted photo)

“It’s fascinating,” he said. “Not fascinating from a Nazi standpoint, but fascinating from a historical standpoint.”

“I’ve handled stuff from some of the worst people on earth — Stalin, Mao, Hitler,” Panagopulos said. That used to make him cringe about 20 years ago, he said. “But now, there’s also the wow factor. It’s quite the historical find.”

It took months to prepare the listings for this auction, said Panagopulos: three people wrote descriptions, while two others photographed the items. By listing his auction also on other Internet auction sites, Alexander Historical Auctions can sell to bidders all over the world from Cecil County.

Bidding will be available live, by telephone, and at invaluable.com, liveauctioneers.com, and the-saleroom.com.