Did Lenin and Hitler face off at a chess board?

Jan 6, 2010, 9:54 PM |


Did Lenin and Hitler face off at a chess board?

Published 03 September, 2009, 19:49

British auction house Mullock’s has put a controversial item up for bidding: an etching picturing Hitler and Lenin at a chess board. The owner of the picture is sure of its authenticity. Historians, however, are not.

Back in 1909, Adolph Hitler was a jobbing artist in Vienna and Lenin was in exile. The house where they allegedly played the game belonged to a prominent Jewish family, who left the Austro-Hungarian capital in the run-up to the Second World War and leaving a part of their property to the housekeeper. The etching and the chess set pictured on it were among the possessions left.According to Mullock’s auctioning house, there are five copies of this etching. The one that has been placed for bidding has the pencil signatures of Hitler and Lenin on the reverse. Experts are only 80% sure that the signatures are original.



The etching was allegedly drawn from nature by the future Fuhrer’s art teacher, Emma Lowenstramm, and is dated 1909.

Now the image and the chess set belong to the great-great grandson of the housekeeper, who now wants to sell the items. The unnamed vendor asserts that his father devoted all his life to prove the authenticity of the image. The lot is accompanied by a 300-page research document with proofs that the paper and the signatures are original. The preliminary price of the two items is estimated at £40,000 (approximately $65,000).

Experts still doubt authenticity of the engraving. Historians do not have any confirmed information that Lenin and Hitler ever met at all. They are also not so sure that Lenin happened to be in Vienna in 1909. Moreover, by that time, Lenin was already bald, whereas the engraving pictures somebody not lacking hair (presumably, Hitler is on the left, by the window, and Lenin is opposite him).

The last argument, however, was challenged by the auctioneer, asserting that Lenin could have used a wig for the sake of conspiracy.

British historian Helen Rappaport, the author of the book “Conspirator: Lenin in Exile”, believes that an engraving is a fruit of the imagination. However, she supposes that the player in front of Hitler could be someone from the Bolsheviks, or one of Lenin’s acquaintances living in emigration.

Mullock’s have set October 1 as the date for the auction.