A cache of artefacts from the Nazi period – including badges adorned with eagles and swastikas, and a portrait of Adolf Hitler – has been uncovered in Germany.
The find was made by a local history teacher behind a building wall in the city of Hagen, near Düsseldorf.
Sebastian Yurtseven discovered the objects in July while clearing out his aunt’s house following torrential rain and flooding in the region.
Removing a piece of plasterboard that had come loose in the rain, he found a hole stashed with Nazi Party medals, a portrait of Hitler, a revolver, brass knuckles, gas masks, documents, and newspapers.
The objects were most likely placed there during the last days of the Third Reich, when Allied forces advanced through the Ruhr region a few weeks before the end of the war in Europe.
‘The objects lay in a narrow shaft between two houses,’ said Andreas Korthals, an archivist at Stadtarchiv Hagen, an agency of the North Rhine-Westphalia state government.
‘They were probably disposed of in this crevice in April 1945, when American troops marched in,’ Korthals added, saying also that whoever hid them did so in a hurry.
Since the discovery, experts from the archives agency have taken 12 boxes from the site for examination. They have also established that the house once served as a local office of the Nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt (NSV), a welfare organisation run by the Nazi Party.
Powerful at the time but little remembered today, the NSV was designed to spread Nazi ideology through charity work. Its activities included providing food, gas masks, and medical treatment for German civilians during the war.
‘Finds of this kind are extremely rare and now offer the city archive the opportunity to find out more about the functioning of an NSV agency,’ Korthals said.
Documents obtained from the house bear NSV markings. It has also been established that the alleged head of the former office, and a signatory of several documents, was employed by a German federal agency after the war and died in the mid-1960s.
‘I got goosebumps,’ Yurtseven told the German news agency, Westfalenpost. ‘I didn’t think it would turn into such a huge discovery.’ He added that his family had bought the house in the 1960s and had no idea that it had once been a local NSV office.
All objects and written material found will now be indexed in archives and made available for research purposes. Some items will go on display in a new city museum.
All images: Stadtarchiv Hagen.