WASHINGTON, March 29, 2017 — A Russian soldier’s bayonet unlocked the drawer to the dead woman’s dressing table. Found inside were 74 personal snapshots, neatly assembled into a photo album.
It was handed to the young British war photographer from the London Daily Mirror – a gift from his Soviet host.
Edward “Dixie” Dean, the photographer in question, was among the first Allied journalists to enter the subterranean Berlin shelter after it was stormed by soldiers of the Soviet Red Army in late April of 1945.
The dead woman whose photos he held was Adolf Hitler’s paramour of more than a decade – and the German dictator’s wife for less than two days – Eva Braun.
Dean made a name for himself before the war as a crime photographer on such lurid cases as the “brides in the bath” murders.
His colleagues called him “Lucky” because of his many “scoops through being in the right place at the right time,” the Daily Mirror said of Dean in his 1983 obituary.
Among the photos is ones showing Hitler at the Berghof, his mountain retreat high in the Bavarian Alps, as well as a snapshot of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, who was instrumental in implementing Hitler’s “final solution.” Also included is Air Martial Hermann Göring, who looted thousands of artworks from Holocaust victims.
Eva Braun’s photo album was sold on Wednesday by C&T Auctioneers and Valuers in Royal Tunbridge Wells, England, and purchased for a cool $45,000 by an anonymous bidder.
The buyer’s decision to remain unidentified is understandable in light of what happened to Marc Garlasco, a former military analyst for Human Rights Watch, and an avid collector of World War II (and Nazi) memorabilia.
After contributing to a 2004 Human Rights Watch report critical of Israel’s home demolition policy aimed at suspected militants in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli blogger suggested Garlasco’s fondness for Nazi memorabilia was proof of his anti-Semitism.
It was a convincing argument for the folks at NGO Monitor, whose mission statement is to “promote accountability” on “activities of NGO’s (non-governmental organization) claiming to advance human rights and humanitarian agendas”:
“The collecting of Nazi memorabilia is not simply an innocent hobby engaged in by ‘students of military history.’ It is highly controversial and in many European countries, it is illegal. Such trade is banned on many internet sites and from auction houses. Christies’ Chairman has stated that Nazi memorabilia, is ‘the only thing we categorically will not sell’… and the Simon Wiesenthal Center notes it ‘glorifies the horrors of Nazi Germany.’”
They added, “Research conducted by NGO Monitor could not find any evidence that Garlasco’s interest in US military memorabilia approaches the level to which he is devoted to Nazi paraphernalia.”
But an anonymous hoarder of such mementos defended his holdings to Collectors Weekly, saying his critics “need to look to the end of the book and see what happened – Germany lost.”
One such book that attests to that loss did once belong to the dead Eva Braun.