A Unique Counterintelligence Grouping Including Gestapo Related Artifact-This unique offering will be prominently featured in Bill Shea’s upcoming volume IV of THE STORIES BEHIND THE TREASURES OF WORLD WAR II “The Making of a Collectorholic”.
Here is the story as it will appear in the book. You never know who or what you are going to interact with at a militaria show, so when a couple representing a church group stopped by my tables at the Show of Shows, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Were they going to preach to me or try to save my soul? They had stopped at several tables offering what they brought with them but were told by more than one dealer to come see me. I was intrigued when they explained to me that another church member had an uncle who was an Army CIC agent during WWII and after that had a very interesting career.
I was even more surprised when they pulled out a very well-organized portfolio of documents, photos arrest reports, insignia and two very rare GESTAPO discs as souvenirs from a Counter Intelligence Corps agent by the name of Charles Collyer. Tech Sgt. Collyer had passed away but given his nephew these items. He was a Special Agent with the 351th CIC detachment located in Zehlendorf.
In turn, the nephew had donated this unusual gift to the church group and they had come to this huge show seeking offers for the grouping. Having concluded all the amenities, I asked them what they wanted for the grouping and they said they were taking offers.
This becomes a very challenging and complex endeavor because it can become an active bidding war. On one hand, you cannot blame the group selling the items because they want to get the most possible for the collection. However, if I make an offer, then it can become the base from which they can seek better offers. What’s more, I cannot prevent them from disclosing not only that I made the offer, but also how much I offered. I have been in this situation many, many times and have emerged successfully most of the time but I had my work cut out for this one.
Here I am in the midst of a huge show with non-stop action and I’ve got to try to close this deal. It’s more complicated because there are dozens of documents and paperwork in the group that I do not have the luxury of examining to determine the real potential value of the grouping.
Without hesitation, I asked the couple who put the grouping in order? They told me it was with the help of the veteran’s nephew. I then asked if there was any chance I could speak with him. They took out their cell phone and within seconds I was speaking with Claude Coleman asking him questions about his uncle. He said his uncle Charles did not talk too much about his service time but continued to work for the government well into the 1960s. He said, “he was gone a lot”. The paperwork substantiated that as he had travel papers from 1961 authorizing him to travel to many foreign countries.
He did, however, mention how he had arrested two Gestapo men and taken their identification badges. He then said, it was weird because his uncle had then worked with these former enemies after the war. Bingo, there were two GEHEIME STAATSPOLIZEI discs in the grouping which were the key pieces of value. I did try to get a price out of Claude but he said he was leaving that up to his church friends.
Having gained this insight, I returned to my negotiations with the couple. They had already been surfing the show for hours and certainly had a feel for the value of the group. I, therefore, gave them my best pitch. I simply said “Tell me what will make you happy”. They consulted with each other for a moment and shot me a price. They were far from bashful but I wasn’t about to let them walk away with the group and so I met their price and we got the deal done.
It wasn’t the first time my purchase had benefited a church group. Hopefully, you recall the huge grouping of Adolf Hitler silverware from Volume II that helped build a church steeple.
Once I had the time to examine the grouping which was weeks after the show, I reviewed the grouping and was happy to find many letters written during the 1944 Christmas season addressed to “The Führer Adolf Hitler” and sent to the Reichskanzlei.
The best letter was the one written to his Mom in July of 1945 on Himmler stationary taken from the Reichsführer’s office. This is fun to read because he specifically mentions giving some things to Claudie who is the nephew mentioned earlier in this story.
One set of paperwork looked pretty intense as it involved the arrest and interrogation of what the CIC thought was an SS colonel on Himmler’s staff. After arrest and interrogation, it was discovered he, in essence, was a car salesman who had been discharged from active service for medical reasons and happened to have the same name as the SS colonel they were after.
The jackpot from my further investigation was finding a letter dated Aug 7th, 1945 where Collyer names three Kripo (Gestapo) officials that he was at a meeting with. These former secret police officials were working closely with the occupation forces enforcing regulations and pointing out NAZI party members, as well as SA, SS, SD and other persons of interest who might be considered war criminals. Therefore, the original owners of the Gestapo discs in the grouping belonged to two of the men identified in this letter.
The bottom line is the more I examined and investigated the grouping, the better it got. I have not tried to research these Kripo agents, but something tells me they slipped through the cracks after the dust settled. I am hoping the substantial offer I tendered for the grouping did some good for the church group. Please enjoy the photo collage just as it will appear in my book which will be out in 2021.