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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006, 10:12 GMT 11:12 UK
Auction of 'Hitler' watercolours
Drawing attributed to Hitler
The owner of the collection wishes to remain anonymous
Paintings and sketches thought to be the work of Adolf Hitler have attracted worldwide interest ahead of an auction in a small Cornish town.

The 21 paintings and two pencil sketches will go under the hammer at Jefferys auctioneers in Lostwithiel.

They were found in an old suitcase in a Belgian attic, close to where Hitler served during World War I.

But some relatives of Holocaust survivers have denounced the sale and said the pictures should be burned.

Dr Paul Newgass, the vice president of Exeter Synagogue, described the auction of the Nazi dictator's work as "a bit grotesque".

Collection of paintings and drawings thought to be by Adolph Hitler
Some Holocaust survivors have denounced the auction

He said: "It's stirring up the past and a slap in the face for the families of Holocaust victims.

"I can understand why some people feel so distressed, but I don't think the auction will impact on the day-to-day aspect of Jewish life."

A Jefferys spokesman said there would be a security presence on the day, but no problems were expected.

The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted the Cornish auction house after reading of its sale last November of a 1923 Hitler portrait of a postman, which was sold for 5,200 by a collector from Torpoint, Cornwall who bought it from a friend of Hitler's personal adjutant.

The auctioneers have said steps were taken to prove the authenticity of the watercolours without success, but the paper has been dated and the style is the same.

Watercolour thought to be by Adolf Hitler
The auctioneer says the pictures are "not great artwork"

Auctioneer Ian Morris told BBC News: "We had paper analysis to show the paper is of the period 1916-18, or before, and he was stationed in and around the area where all the pictures were painted during World War I and that's well documented."

The paintings - some signed A Hitler, and others AH - feature landscapes, some with buildings.

Hitler, who was rejected by the Academy of Art in Vienna, sold some of his early drawings through a Jewish art dealer.

Mr Morris said the pictures were not particularly good and would probably not be worthy of selling if it was not for the artist.

They vary from postcard size to 10ins by 8ins (25cm by 20cm) and are expected to fetch about 3,000 each.

Because of the enormous interest in the auction, it is being held at the Restormel Lodge Hotel in Lostwithiel.

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04 Feb 04 |  Asia-Pacific
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