The installation consists of
a wooden display case in the shape of a Jewish gravestone or Tabernacle (see
footnote) in which three objects are displayed, sealed by
an acrylic cover.
The first object is a leather desk folder with
a section of Adolph Hitler’s clock embedded into it with
the words ‘Hitler’s Berghof Berchtesgarten 1945’.
The brass clock had been made specifically for Hitler and was located
in his mountain retreat residence (Berghof), in the main reception
room next to the famous picture window which could be lowered and
raised to show views of the mountains. The mountain retreat was
entirely destroyed by allied bombing in 1945 and this piece of
the clock that still exists clearly shows fire damage. Today there
is nothing visibly left of Berchtesgarten.
The second object is a page from a 1935 wedding
guestbook that shows Hitler’s signature and the words
“ A friendly remembrance” and below that the signature of his SA
Adjutant Willhelm Bruckner. The guest book was from a mediaeval monastery in
The third object is the map that was supplied
to the invading American troops, showing the layout of Hitler’s
mountain retreat and the location of the various buildings. The
printed paper has been properly preserved by a paper conservator,
whilst maintaining its antique appearance.
Next to the main piece is a framed display
containing an sworn affadavit from 1956, by the lieutenant who
accompanied my father at Berchtesgarten, proving the genuine provenance
of the pieces. It also includes a postcard example of Hitler's
signature and a photo detail of the original clock in situ at Berghof.
My father was part of the investigating team
of the US war crimes unit in Germany in 1945 and visited Berchtesgarten
shortly after its destruction by the bombing and liberation by
US troops. Whilst touring the location in the vicinity of Hitler’s
reception room, he found the piece of the brass clock. It was later
mounted into a leather folder by a captured SS officer who was
under investigation by my father and who had also been a saddler
before the war.
The signature from Maulbronn was retrieved
by my father during an investigation. The map is the actual one
he was given in 1945 during the liberation of Berchgtesgarten,
as a member of the invasion force.
These things were always displayed on my father’s
desk in his study during my childhood and had a deep emotional
effect on me.
By containing them in a Jewish tabernacle,
the work takes on a much deeper significance. It could pertain
to the final triumphant victory over the evil of Hitler. It could
pertain to a final forgiveness of the evil that took hold of a
nation and killed at least 60 million people. It touches on the
contradictions that still exist over what took place during the
1930’s and 40’s and the final destruction of Hitler’s
The Tabernacle (Hebrew:
mishkan,"residence" or "dwelling place"), according
to the Hebrew Torah Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place
for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through
the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed
byYahweh (God) to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites
on their wanderings in the wilderness and their conquest of the
Promised Land, and was eventually placed in the First Temple in
Jerusalem, which superseded it as the dwelling-place of God among
the Israelites. It is not mentioned after the destruction of Jerusalem
by the Babylonians.
The fullest description of the Tabernacle describes an inner shrine
named Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) housing the Ark and an
outer chamber (Holy Place), with a golden lampstand, table for
showbread, and altar of incense. According to the 19th century "Higher
Criticism" school of Julius Wellhausen, an earlier, pre-exilic
source describes the Tabernacle as a simple tent-sanctuary.