An unknown landscape picture attributed to former German dictator Adolf Hitler at Kloos House in Berlin, Germany. Its starting bid price is €4,000, January 24, 2019. Picture: rEUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCHE
An unknown landscape picture attributed to former German dictator Adolf Hitler at Kloos House in Berlin, Germany. Its starting bid price is €4,000, January 24, 2019. Picture: rEUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCHE

Berlin — The three anaemic watercolours showing a mountain scene, a river and a distant figure sitting beneath a tree are little different from wares on sale at flea markets the world over, except for the autograph scratched in the corner: “A Hitler”.

But it is thanks to that attribution to Germany’s wartime Nazi leader, guilty of some of the worst crimes in history, that a Berlin auction house hopes a sale will net thousands of euros for the family selling them.

“They are watercolours by Adolf Hitler,” said Heinz-Joachim Maeder, a spokesman for Kloss auctioneers. “In my view they have no artistic value, it’s simply adequate craftsmanship. The value of these objects and the media interest is because of the name at the bottom.”

The signature on an unknown landscape attributed to former German dictator Adolf Hitler, in Berlin, Germany, January 24 2019. Picture: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH
The signature on an unknown landscape attributed to former German dictator Adolf Hitler, in Berlin, Germany, January 24 2019. Picture: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH

Before the outbreak of World War 1, in which he fought, a penniless Hitler eked out a living as a jobbing painter in Munich, churning out dozens of postcards and paintings for petty cash. His earlier dream of becoming an artist was dashed when the young man twice failed to pass the entrance exam for the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.

“If you walk down the Seine and see 100 artists, 80 will be better than this,” Maeder said.

The paintings’ elderly sellers did not want to be identified.

Hundreds of Hitler artworks are known to exist, though most are held by the US Army, which confiscated them after the allies defeated his regime at the end of World War 2. That collection is never exhibited.

There are also many forgeries in circulation, though these three paintings have been authenticated by US-based handwriting expert Frank Garo, whose certificate of authenticity noted the autograph “shows spontaneity, proper letter size ... and no sign of being drawn or forced.”

The auction house expects strong demand from online bidders in Britain, Scandinavia, the US and, above all, Russia.

“They (Hitler paintings) hardly get sold in Germany,” said Maeder, reflecting Hitler’s taboo status in the country responsible for crimes, including the genocide of more than 6-million Jews in the Holocaust.
Reuters