by Christian Jürs
The proliferation of documents from the Third Reich purporting to be signed by Adolf Hitler are legion.
An original Hitler signature is quite rare and in demand by autograph and militaria collectors but, sadly, most of the ones found today on the market are not original.
Firstly, one must consider the paper on which the document is signed.
Paper used during the course of the Third Reich did not have paper whiteners used in its construction. This additive did not appear in paper until after 1951.
Paper whiteners react positively to the ultra violet light (the so-called ‘black light’) but paper used during the Third Reich is non-reactive.
Also, it ought to be noted that Adolf Hitler signed very few official papers.
This task was the sphere of one Vittorio von Ihne, an employee of the Reichs Chancellery.
Von Ihne, whose architect father was a favorite of Kaiser Wilhelm II, ink-signed nearly all of the promotion and decorations certificates and his handwriting is often accepted as “original.”
Hitler’s original ink signatures were small, cramped and inclined to dip on the right.
Also it should be noted that on such documents, a raised state seal can be found on the lower left of the paper.
This seal consists of a thin wreath of oakleaves surrounding a displayed state eagle and swastika.
On originals to the period, one can clearly see between the eagle’s legs the vertical feathering of the tail but on the post war fakes, this area is blank.
A von Ihne-signed document is worth less than a hundred dollars, providing the paper is of the right construction and the seal is correct to the period.
As an aside, it should be noted that the famous ‘Anne Frank Diaries” are on paper that has whiteners and written in a ball-point pen which was not invented in 1942 but, like the paper, after 1951.