Hitler's bookmark surfaces in federal bust
A man was charged in the United States on Wednesday with trying to sell a golden bookmark once given to Adolf Hitler to cheer him up after losing the Battle of Stalingrad, dpa reported.
Christian Popescu, 37, of Kenmore, Washington, was arrested after FBI agents posing as potential buyers set up a meeting to purchase the 18-carat-gold artifact in a Starbucks parking lot, the US Justice Department said.
Hitler's companion, Eva Braun, is believed to have given the bookmark to the dictator after the Soviet Red Army defeated Nazi German forces in the 1943 battle for Stalingrad, a key turning point in the war on the Eastern Front.
"My Adolf, don't worry. The mischievous event with Paulus was only an inconvenience that will not break your certainty of victory," said the bookmark's inscription in German, referring to the German Army general who lost the battle. "My love for you will be eternal, just like our Reich."
It features a side view of Hitler's face below an eagle clutching a swastika.
Popescu was seeking 100,000 to 150,000 dollars for the bookmark. Authorities in Spain, where it was stolen in 2002, estimated its value at about 13,000 dollars.
In autumn 2002, thieves in a Madrid auction house stole the bookmark and other items in a "smash and grab" robbery just days before they were to go under the gavel. Most of the items were later recovered, but the Hitler bookmark had been missing until now.
The Justice Department said that federal agents in Seattle learned that someone was trying sell a bookmark that allegedly belonged to Hitler. Popescu faces 10 years in prison and up to 250,000 dollars in fines if convicted.