Argentine police have found around 75 Nazi artifacts in a collector's home near Buenos Aires. The haul provides more evidence of the presence of high-ranking Nazis in South America after World War II.
A bust relief of Adolf Hitler, magnifying glasses in boxes with swastikas, and a medical device to measure head size were just some of the Nazi artifacts Argentine police found in a collector's home in Beccar, a suburb of Buenos Aires.
Authorities say they believe these items are originals that belonged to high-ranking Nazis in Germany during World War II. They believe it is the largest collection of Nazi artifacts in the country's history.
Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told the Associated Press news agency some of the artifacts were accompanied by photos, and include a photo negative, not released to the public, of Hitler using one of the magnifying glasses. "This was a way to commercialize them, showing they were once used by the horror, by the Fuhrer. There are photos of him with the object."
"It's part of Argentinean history and we need to get it out in the open," she added.
Ariel Cohen Sabban, president of the Argentine Jewish Associations Delegation (DAIA), called the findings "unheard of" in Argentina. "This is irrefutable evidence that following the Second World War, the doors were open, in Argentina, for top figures of the Nazi regime to enter our beloved country."
The hidden path to discovery
Agents with international police force Interpol followed the collector and raided his home on June 8 with a judicial order. They found a large bookshelf in the study that gave way to a secret passage way leading to a room with Nazi imagery.
The collector, who remains free but under investigation by a federal judge, was not identified.
Police are still trying to determine how the artifacts got to Argentina. The main hypothesis among investigators and members of the Argentine Jewish community is that a high ranking Nazi or Nazis brought the artifacts for Argentina, which became a refuge for fleeing criminals after World War II. Authorities did not name any Nazis whom the items may have originally belonged.
After proper investigations into their origin and ownership, the pieces will be put on display at the Holocaust Museum in Buenos Aires to keep the memory of Yom Hashoah alive. The DAIA has given the Argentine government an award for finding these historic pieces.
dv/rg (AP, EFE)