In 4 Museum Heists, Thieves Went After the Same Thing

A fortune's worth of Nazi uniforms stolen in Europe since March
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2020 9:20 AM CST
In 4 Museum Heists, Thieves Went After the Same Thing
Nazi uniforms are pictured behind glass at the German Historical Museum in Berlin in October 2019.   (Wikimedia/Wolfmann)

Thieves set up a roadblock of tires, parked a fake police car beside it, then smashed down the door of the Eyewitness War Museum in the Netherlands, from which they took $1.5 million in World War II memorabilia in just five minutes, per the New York Times. "It was done with military precision," museum director Wim Seelen tells the Times, which reports police were delayed by the roadblock and arrived only after the thieves—close to a dozen people—had escaped on Aug. 4. They appear to have been after Nazi memorabilia specifically. Nine mannequins decked out in Nazi uniforms, including one worn by Adolf Hitler's personal chef, were among the items seized in the 2am raid—one of a spate of robberies targeting Nazi uniforms this year. On Nov. 3, thieves snagged three mannequins in Nazi outfits from the German Museum North Schleswig in Denmark.

The previous month, thieves stole 23 mannequins in SS uniforms from the Oorlogsmuseum in the Netherlands while the owner was sleeping in a nearby room, per ArtNet News and the National Post. And in March, thieves made off with SS uniforms from the Frosty Camp Museum in Denmark. None of the robberies have been solved and it's unknown if they're connected. One theory is that they were ordered by Eastern European collectors. German World War II memorabilia is rare as so much of it was destroyed after the war, Jan de Jonge of the Oorlogsmuseum tells the CBC. And prices have skyrocketed in recent years. A stolen rifle used by Nazi paratroopers is worth more than $175,000, up from $60,000 a decade ago, while an SS uniform could fetch as much as $35,000 today. Museums are now taking precautions, installing extra security and removing uniforms from view. (More heist stories.)

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