Police in Argentina found a treasure trove of Nazi relics in a hidden room in a house near Buenos Aires on Monday. The collection included a bust relief of Adolf Hitler, magnifying glasses inside boxes with swastikas and even a ghastly medical device used to measure head size.
The authorities believe this may be the largest collection of artifacts in the country’s history. Around 75 objects were found in a collector’s home in Beccar and the items are thought to be originals, belonging to high-ranking Nazi officers in Germany during World War II. Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told the Associated Press that first investigations supported the idea of the relics being originals. Some of the pieces came with photographs. “This is a way to commercialize them, showing that they were used by the horror, by the Fuhrer. There are photos of him with the objects”, she said. The photograph was not released to the public, but was shown to AP on the condition that it not be published.
One of the most persuasive pieces among these is a picture of Hitler holding a pair of magnifying glasses similar to the ones found in the boxes. Nestor Roncaglia, head of Argentina’s Federal Police told AP: “We have turned to historians and they’ve told us it is the original magnifying glass.” He also said they were contacting international experts to deepen the investigation.
The discovery came at the end of an incident where authorities found artworks of an illegal origin in a gallery in north Buenos Aires and agents with the international police force Interpol began following the collector of the artifacts. The investigation culminated on June 8 when the agents found a hidden passageway to a room filled with Nazi imagery during a raid at his house. The collector was not identified by name and is reportedly free but under investigation by a federal judge.
The police and the Argentinean Jewish community, who are trying to find out how they might have come to Argentina, have a theory suggesting a high-ranking Nazi or Nazis may have brought the artifacts with them, after World War II. This was during the time when Argentina had become a refuge for fleeing criminals. However, the police haven’t named any Nazi officials to whom these objects might belong.
The names of Josef Mengele and Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann, both Nazis who fled to Argentina after the war, have emerged in speculation of who might have brought the objects into the country. Roncaglia noted the house was in a zone near where both Mengele and Eichmann had lived.
Ariel Cohen Sabban, president of the DAIA, a political umbrella for Argentina’s Jewish institutes, told AP, “This is unheard of in the Argentine Republic. Finding 75 original pieces is historic and could offer irrefutable proof of the presence of top leaders who escaped from Nazi Germany.” The Deutsche Welle reported the pieces will be put on display at the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aries after thorough investigations into their origins. The DAIA has also announced a prize for the Argentinean government for finding these historic pieces.