Salt Lake County sheriff's detectives have recovered what they believe are artifacts formerly belonging to Adolf Hitler. They're also asking for the public's help in finding two additional items.
This week detectives recovered three items believed to have been kept in the "Eagle's Nest," Hitler's tea house located at the top of a mountain ledge in the Alps overlooking Germany and Austria.
The items include what appears to be the Saarbrucken Declaration, kept in storage in a steel case. Another is a wooden box containing documents on the history of the German prince, Henry the Lion. The third is a document titled the "Ehrenburger Brief" dated March 31, 1933. The documents are written in German. The declaration starts off with the words, "Mein Fuhrer."
The items were reportedly given to Hitler as gifts from the citizens in the nations occupied by his forces, apparently in an attempt to keep peace with him. The sheriff's office has not confirmed their authenticity, but sheriff's detective Scott VanWagoner said they appear to be authentic.
"They're unlike anything I've ever seen. They're very unique in character and nature," VanWagoner said. "(The history of Henry the Lion) was one of the most unique antiques I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Certainly, I was skeptical at first, but when I saw these items, I was amazed at their unique character. The care and artwork that went into each item are very meticulous."
The case came to light when a woman claiming to be an antiquities dealer called a local professor who is an expert in German history, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Paul Jaroscak said. Once the professor saw the items, he told the woman he not only knew what they were but also knew where they came from and who owned them.
Five artifacts from the Eagle's Nest apparently were being kept in a storage shed on State Street when they were stolen in 2005, Jaroscak said. The man who owned them said he had received them from his father, who was a World War II veteran.
The woman who bought the items said she purchased them from a man who investigators want to question. VanWagoner said that person is still under investigation.
But two of the artifacts stolen from the shed are still missing. One is a bronze bust of Hitler on top of a marble base. The bust is slightly damaged near Hitler's nose. It is believed someone took an ax to the bust at the end of the war, according to investigators. The other stolen item is a 4-inch-diameter vase from 1933 with swastikas.
Anyone with information on these missing items can call the sheriff's office at 743-7000.
The recovered items will be kept in a climate-controlled area of the sheriff's office's evidence locker until a court can determine who is the rightful owner, Jaroscak said.