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arhob1
12-10-2005, 07:51 AM
In today's "The Times" ....

The Times December 10, 2005

SS ring stolen from Hitler's lair
From Roger Boyes in Berlin



GERMAN police offered a reward yesterday for an SS Death’s Head ring stolen by Nazi memorabilia hunters from an exhibition at Hitler’s former retreat in the Bavarian Alps.
The ring is inscribed with the signature of Heinrich Himmler and was awarded by the SS chief to one of his officers. Such rings are regarded as a big prize on the multimillion-pound Nazi souvenir market and fetch about £8,000 on the internet.



Investigators say that the ring has almost certainly been stolen for its mystical value to neo-Nazi sympathisers, rather than to turn a quick profit.

Himmler introduced the ring in April 1934, and it was awarded to founding officers of the SS. By 1939 rules were relaxed to the point where SS service of three years was sufficient. Early rings, all made from silver and portraying carefully carved skulls, are the most valuable, and this one was awarded on December 1, 1934.

Himmler presented the rings personally and read out a citation that ended: “The Death’s Head ring cannot be bought or sold and must never fall into the hands of those who are not entitled to use it . . . Wear the ring with honour!”

It was taken very seriously by the SS. In the case of death, the ring was removed from the corpse and handed to the unit commander, who arranged for it to be sent to Wewelsburg Castle in Germany, where Hitler had created an SS shrine.

About 14,500 rings were awarded. By January 1945, 64 per cent had been returned to the shrine, 26 per cent were still held by SS officers and 10 per cent were lost on the battlefield. In the spring of 1945 Himmler ordered the rings in the shrine to be blast-sealed into the side of a mountain near Wewelsburg Castle.

They have never been found. As a result there are only about 3,000 genuine rings in circulation. This ring was stolen a few weeks ago, and the police offered the €1,000 (£670) reward after it failed to appear on the internet memorabilia market.

The ring is thought to have been stolen from the National Socialist Documentation Centre at Obersalzberg. The theft comes after a spate of similiar raids. In June Hitler’s gold Nazi party membership badge, worth up to £2 million, was stolen from an exhibition in Moscow.