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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Nazi propaganda photos withdrawn
Photograph of gypsy children from the film Tiefland
The photographs are worth up to 3,000
Nazi propaganda pictures of travellers which were due to be sold at auction in Shropshire have been withdrawn.

The 33 photos were taken during the shooting of the controversial film Tiefland (Lowlands) by Hitler's favourite film-maker Leni Riefenstahl.

But a number of travellers have contacted the auctioneers to say the photos should stay in their community.

A spokesman from auctioneers Mullock Madeley said they were giving the travellers two weeks to buy the photos.

They (the travelling community) want to obtain them so they can be displayed and remembered forever
Richard Westwood-Brookes

It has been claimed that the Gypsy children featured in the photos were forced to take part in the film against their will and later died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

A letter written by Ms Riefenstahl in 1954 denying the youngsters were then taken to Auschwitz accompanies the pictures.

Documents specialist Richard Westwood-Brookes, from the Shropshire-based auctioneers, said they had been contacted by an organisation which represented the traveller community.

"The pictures have caused a worldwide debate within the travelling community who feel these pictures are part of their history," he told BBC News.

"They want to obtain them so they can be displayed and remembered forever."

Nazi sympathiser

He said the pictures had been withdrawn from sale for two weeks to enable the organisation to buy them.

Ms Riefenstahl, who was officially declared a Nazi sympathiser after the war, is noted for her 1934 propaganda film about the Nuremberg rallies, Triumph of the Will.

She is also recognised for breaking new ground in film-making techniques and aesthetics in her depiction of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Tiefland was Riefenstahl's last feature film and although it was started in the 1930s, it was not premiered until 1954. She died in September 2003 at the age of 101.

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