Nuremberg Trials Signatures, ca. 1945
My father always wanted to know the value of these signatures. He had the signatures since '46, and so I thought if I ever got on the ROADSHOW, this is what I would bring.
The cover here reads "Nurnberg Prison, 1945-1946." And then we have the insignia that was created for the trials. You can see the scales of justice there. But the real interesting part is inside. And here we have signatures of 21 of the first defendants of the trial. How did your father acquire these?
He was the lieutenant of the guard, and they would exchange one cigarette for one signature. So if a prisoner wanted a cigarette, they could sign a signature and then they would get the cigarette.
Well, it's a pretty complete grouping. The first trial really were for the major criminals during the war, and they were the leaders and different members of the army, as well as civilians who were tried for war crimes. Many of these individuals ended up being executed. Some were sentenced to a long term in prison. Of note is Hermann Goering, who cheated the hangman by committing suicide right before he had to go. Did your father ever mention an encounter with Goering?
Yes, my father was the first officer in the cell after the guard on the outside door of the cell hollered to my dad that Goering was not moving. He said the first thing he noticed was that there was glass particles on Goering's lips.
Some other members here-- he has Hess, who made a supposed peace effort by flying over England, and he crashed, and he was captured, claiming that he was there to try to make peace with the government. He was sentenced to a life term, spent much time in Spandau Prison, later died in prison. We have Albert Speer, who was Hitler's architect, built and designed many of the buildings for the Third Reich, was sentenced to a prison term, but did survive. And here we have Julius Streicher, and next to his name is his cell number. Julius Streicher was defiant to the end, up until the day he was executed. Other ones are interesting because they're dated very close to the date of execution, which was October 16, 1946. We have Jodl, who was also executed. He was the one who signed the surrender document. It was relatively commonplace, though, for jailers and guards to trade for signatures, so I have seen in the past assembled sets like this before. Yours is unique in the way it's presented and in the fact that you have 21 of the major defendants. The key to the value really is the condition of the signatures. The rips and tears in the folder themselves are of note, but don't really affect the value. The main value is on the strength of each individual signature. And certainly some have better conditions than others, but overall they're in good condition. A document like this, at auction, it's conservatively worth $3,000. So I really appreciate you bringing it in, and it's an amazing record, and we're sure proud of your father's service.
Well, thank you very much.
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Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."
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