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Sale 39 Lot 1019

A superlative relic, a steel key about 4 1/2" long, imprinted "36" at one end, bearing a metal-cased paper label reading "Kehlsteinhaus" which is in turn covered by a strip of clear acetate. The key is accompanied by a letter from noted historian and militaria dealer Ben Swearingen on his letterhead, 2pp. 4to., describing the key and offering it to collector Dr. John Lattimer. Also present is a copy of a newspaper article sent by Swearingen to Lattimer from the Portland Evening Express, Apr. 17, 1946 picturing interpreter Jos. H. Johnson of the 290th Combat Engineer Battalion with some of the "loot" he recovered from the Berghof. Johnson's five-man patrol was the first to reach Hitler's mountain retreat, and he found this key in Hitler's plainly-furnished private study. Lattimer purchased the key, and present also is Swearingen's envelope labeled: "Key from Kehlsteinhaus". The key appears on p. 54 in Lattimer's book Hitler's Fatal Sickness, labeled as "The key to Hitler's personal office...", and as part of the Evan Lattimer Collection. The Kehlsteinhaus, atop the 6,017-foot Kehlstein mountain, was built as a Nazi Party present for Hitler's 50th birthday in 1939. Workers toiled non-stop in 1937 and 1938 to carve a twisting road 3,000 feet up the mountainside, burrow a tunnel into the rock, and install an elevator to carry visitors the last 406 feet to the perch. Hitler, who disliked heights, rarely visited, but it was a powerful symbol, even visible from the nearby tourist mecca of Königsee. It was one guest, a French diplomat, who remarked that the building reminded him of an "eagle's nest". The name stuck. Today the building is owned by a charitable trust, and serves as a restaurant, and Hitler's small study is now a store room for the cafeteria.
Estimate $ 1,500-2,000

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