Adolf Hitler’s Horse Sculptures Found In Warehouse In Germany, Among Other Third Reich-Era Art

Adolf Hiter’s horse sculptures, once thought to be lost to the ages, have been recovered by German police in a warehouse in Bad Duerkheim, a town in Germany. The life-sized bronze horse sculptures once stood watch on either side of the stairs leading to Hitler’s grand chancellery in downtown Berlin, but the giant horses went missing in 1945 after they were evacuated from Berlin in an attempt to save them from bombs.

Hitler's New Reich Grand Chancellery was damaged during WWII, and was later destroyed

Hitler’s horse sculptures were found once again five years later, in 1950, on the grounds of a Red Army barracks in Eberswalde, northeast of Berlin. Hitler’s famous horses stayed in Eberswalde for 38 years before going missing again. The horses resurfaced for a second time in 1989, but after they were discovered by an art historian who published an article on the enormous bronze horses, they disappeared once more.

This time, Hitler’s horses stayed hidden for 26 years before they were found in the warehouse in Bad Duerkheim. The horse sculptures were discovered during one of ten raids in five states that were the culmination of a year-long investigation into illegal art trafficking, in which eight Germans, ranging in age from 64-years-old to 79-years-old, were arrested.

Hitler’s horse sculptures, commissioned by the Third Reich and sculpted by Josef Thorak — one of the two official sculptors of the Third Reich — were just two of several pieces of Nazi-era art found during the raids. Another famous piece long thought to be missing was a 16- by 33-foot granite relief by Arno Breker — the other official sculptor of the Third Reich — that depicted shirtless, muscled soldiers in what police called “typical Nazi style.”

Adolph Hitler's Horse Sculptures Found In Warehouse In Germany, Among Other Third Reich Era Art
One of Hitler's horse statues stands watch outside the Third Reich Chancellery

Bild, a German newspaper, reported that Hitler’s horses — titled “Walking Horses” — along with the other pieces of Nazi-era art, had, in recent years, been put up for sale on the Black Market by illegal art dealers who were asking four million euros ($4.4 million USD) for the pieces.

The horses, having survived multiple moves, bullets, tails being broken off and reattached, and even having been painted gold, will now likely become property of the German State, Bild reported. However, it is also possible that descendants of Josef Thorak, the horses’ creator, could launch a suit to legally claim the infamous pieces of Nazi history.

Should Hitler’s horse statues become property of the state, should they be given to the sculptor’s descendants, or should they be put on display in a museum?

[Image credits: Header — The Daily Beast, Body — BBC, Horse Talk]