Goebbels love letters, fiction go to auction

Poems, love letters and works of fiction written by Joseph Goebbels before he became Adolf Hitler's propaganda chief went on sale this week near New York.

Alexander Historical Auctions described the archive of Goebbels' pre-war literary efforts as "the most important cache of World War II autographs to ever become available for sale."

The collection, which is said to be in perfect condition and is estimated to be worth $200,000-$300,000, reveals a little-known side of the man who later joined the inner circle in Germany's Nazi Party.

In plays, a novel and other writings, Goebbels displayed his resentment and sensitivity, but also his rapidly hardening attitudes.

The auction house in Stamford, Connecticut, said the works trace the development of a "shy, romantic and easily-swayed college student with Marxist leanings" into "a radical Nazi and rabid anti-Semite, a brilliant propagandist at the right hand of the man who would within a decade conquer -- and destroy -- most of Europe."

Bill Panagopulos, the auction house's president, added: "It sums up the formative years of the number two man in the Third Reich, who was responsible for motivating the masses in Germany to back Hitler.

"It shows how this rather simple, shy and love-struck college student really just became radicalized."

Included are school report cards and essays, personal letters, love letters, poetry and anti-capitalist dramas focusing on downtrodden workers in a corrupt world.

The auction closes Friday, with online bids Monday reaching $100,000.

Andreas Kornfeld, also with the auctioneers, said the archives amounted to several thousand pages, including 324 pages of love letters.

Even in those, Goebbels was obsessed with Germany's humiliation in the wake of World War I -- a widely held sentiment in the country that historians say stoked Hitler's rise.

"He writes a lot about how Germans should free themselves from the influence of the victors after World War I," Kornfeld said. "He talks a lot about the political aspects, even within the love letters."

The sheer volume of writing, and evident frustration at not having his fiction published, illustrates how keen Goebbels was to express himself.

"He is not yet the propagandist, but he realizes he can write," Kornfeld added.

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