The Royal Military Museum (RMM), since 2017 one of the War Heritage Institute (WHI) sites, learnt through the media that a complaint had been filed with regard to a uniform put on display at the RMM.
The piece concerned is a uniform attributed to SS General Hermann Fegelein, Adolf Hitler’s brother-in-law who was executed in 1945. The item was purchased in good faith through auctioneer Hermann Historica in Munich in May 2012. According to the procedures in force at that time the acquisition was made with the authorization of the Head of Collection (now passed) and of the Director-General (now retired). The item was acquired for 24,000 € excluding fees.
The WHI does not wait for the judicial investigation and has already ordered an analysis in order to determine the item’s authenticity, viz. by contacting several international experts. The WHI is well aware that items dating from the period concerned are often the subject of forgeries and/or of deliberate erroneous attributions to historical figures. The results of the analysis will be published. It goes without saying that the auctioneer will be held responsible if the piece turns out to be a fake or was erroneously attributed.
The Museum also wishes to highlight the difference between the contents of an internationally acclaimed exhibition set up under the guidance of a scientific committee and the debate about this particular item. The exhibition contains less than 2% of newly acquired items, as the Museum had acquired the other pieces soon after the Second World War.
The WHI asks all people possessing information about the history of this item to contact the institution.
This regrettable incident – which all museums come to face sooner or later – needed to be treated with greater serenity, in the interest both of the institution and of the staff members who on a daily basis do their utmost to present the public with a unique quality cultural experience. The confidence of the management in the staff members remains firm.
We certainly will communicate the conclusions drawn in this case and will suggest to our partners to launch a deliberation on this particularly sensitive matter.