German shepherd in color, 1,500 euros, five-candle baroque chandelier with hunting themes, 5,800 euros - such historical porcelain items from Munich's Allach plant are in demand worldwide.
The Allacher Porzellan Company's online shop offers everything from the "heartfelt" to the "political" in its porcelain creations.
But to buy "genuine Allach" porcelain, collectors also have to abandon their scruples: The company was the chief supplier of the Nazi regime's elite SS corps, led by a man without any scruples: Heinrich Himmler.
To figure out whether you own an Allach porcelain item, just turn it upside-down: Whereas Meissen's famous trademark is crossed blue swords, Nympenburg porcelain has Bavaria's white-and-blue emblem and the Royal Prussian Porcelain Manufacturer symbol is a scepter, Allach's porcelain has an "SS" rune.
Himmler gave his friends the Nazi bric-a-brac and commissioned entire special series of porcelain items. One was a "Flame of Life" for SS pals that came with the dedication: "The best wishes for our nation, for your kin, for your parents, for you! Heinrich Himmler."
Produced by forced laborers
Even Himmler's boss, Adolf Hitler, received some Allach porcelain for his 55th birthday in April 1944, as evidenced by a photograph showing both men with an assembly of porcelain figures - eight infantry soldiers, in color, created by Allach artist Richard Foerster.
The bitter irony is that everything was made by forced laborers from the Dachau death camp near Allach.
The Allach porcelain brand was founded in 1920 by Hungarian-born porcelain maker Franz Nagy and porcelain painter Karl Diebitsch.
Initially their factory was on private property in Allach, with renowned porcelain artists like Foerster and Theodor Kaerner creating the designs. Diebitsch, a member of the Nazi movement from the outset, established contact with Himmler's SS, which in turn took over the factory at the end of the 1930s and incorporated it into its business empire.
In 1937, the Allach catalog contained around 80 items. Under SS management, production was chiefly focused on making presents for SS members, the military, police and foreign guests.
In 1943, upwards of 100 concentration camp prisoners worked in the factory. The showpiece of an exhibition that the trade magazine Keramische Rundschau (Ceramic Review) favorably commented on was an "outstanding portrait of the Fuehrer in a dark stoneware."
The figurative sculptures were "a mirror of our times, our experience and our folklore," the reviewer wrote about the exhibition.
Today, no one knows for sure how many of such SS-commissioned items are still in circulation. But the archivist of the Dachau concentration camp memorial site, Albert Knoll, does not feel good about the kind of prices that some collectors are prepared to pay.
Knoll can only speculate what motives the collectors have: Morbid fascination, sympathy for Nazi ideology, or pure business interest?
Knoll noted that the concentration camp laborers in the porcelain works received preferential treatment compared with other laborers.
The porcelain workers were in part spared having to appear at the camp roll calls and in winter could keep warm working next to the kilns. "Some could even express themselves artistically," he said.
However, this does not change the fact that the workers' lives were always in danger - those who deal with Allach porcelain must be aware that the plant "stood for an inhuman ideology, and that people suffered for it," he said.
After the war, the Americans took over the plant and used it for their "labor service." Over time, the plant became dilapidated and was torn down in 1978. Some of its items found their way into the Munich city museum's permanent exhibition on the Nazi period.
Allach porcelain will possibly also soon be on display at the Nazi Documentation Center in Munich. "In any event, in the future we plan to exhibit objects," said the center's new director, Mirjam Zadoff.
It is yet to be decided whether any Nazi bric-a-brac, and how much of it, will be among the items.
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