This is turning out to be a banner season for emerging German artists. First, as the Forward reported, a British auction house put recently discovered paintings by Adolf Hitler up for sale. Now comes word that a canvas by Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy leader in the Nazi party, will go under the hammer at a UK auction house on Saturday.
According to the UK Telegraph, Hess gave the landscape portrait to Roland Davis, an airman who guarded him after WWII, as “a keepsake”. The pair “became friends” during Hess’ imprisonment at Spandau Prison in Berlin, the newspaper reports.
The painting is just one piece in a large collection of wartime memorabilia that Davis’ son is selling through Unique Auctions in Lincoln, UK. “The collection could be sold as individual items, but Mr Davis Jr wanted to keep it together,” said Terry Woodcock, the auctioneer. “It’s probably one of the best collections of one man to do with Germany that I’ve seen.”
Davis, the airman, “became very friendly with [Hess] because he was in charge for the English forces that were looking after him, he was chief prison warden,” Woodcock told the newspaper.
Along with the painting, signed by Hess and “thought to be of a Bavarian scene from his childhood,” the collection includes a helmet, gas mask, flight records and medals. The collection is listed at about $785-$1,250, but is expected to fetch more, the Telegraph said.
Hess joined the fledgling Nazi Party in 1921, according to the JewishVirtualLibrary web site. Hitler named him third deputy of the Reich in 1939, placing him directly below Nazi leader Hermann Göring in line of succession.
Hess was arrested after an ill-advised solo airplane flight to Scotland. He remained a prisoner and at the war crimes trials held at Nürnberg in 1945-46, he was convicted as a war criminal. Sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau, he was its sole inmate from 1966 until his suicide in 1987.