Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Hidden trove of suspected Nazi artifacts found in Argentina

Hidden trove of suspected Nazi artifacts found in Argentina

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.

The haul includes a bust of Adolf Hitler, magnifying glasses inside elegant boxes with swastikas and even a macabre medical device used to measure head size.

Authorities are still trying to determine how the pieces made it in to the country. The roughly 75 artifacts included boxes, daggers and other objects bearing swastikas and depictions of Hitler, as well as devices meant to measure physical characteristics such as head shape.

Agents with the worldwide police force Interpol began following the collector and with a judicial order raided the house on 8 June.

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Police and Interpol said they discovered the hidden cache behind a bookshelf and down a secret passageway. It is believed to be the largest collection of Nazi paraphernalia ever found in the country.

Police raided the house on June 8, but the minister of national security Patricia Bullrich held a press conference Monday afternoon to reveal details of the case. Many items were accompanied by photographs, some with Hitler holding them. "This is a way to commercialise them, showing that they were used by the horror, by the Fuhrer".

According to the Head of the Argentine Federal Police Nestor Roncaglia, the operation was the result of an investigation aimed at "protecting and recovering cultural property", which was of illegal origin and hidden behind false walls.

Bullrich said the police has enlisted the help of historians to investigate how and when the collection entered the country.

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The collector, who remains free but under investigation by a federal judge, has not been identified.

After the end of World War 2, Argentina became a refuge for fleeing Nazi war criminals.

While police in Argentina did not name any high-ranking Nazis to whom the objects might have originally belonged, Bullrich noted there were medical devices. After the Israeli Mossad agents managed to capture Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann from Buenos Aires, Mengele, who was known as the "Angel of Death" during World War II, moved to Paraguay. Anthropometry, or the study of the proportions of the human body, was of keen interest to the Nazis, who used their measurements as "proof" of Aryan superiority, Maurice L. Wade writes in Race and Racism in Theory and Practice.

"This is unheard of in the Argentine Republic".

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When leading members of the Third Reich were caught in Europe, a number of high-ranking Nazi's fled Europe for Argentina to escape justice.

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