Heute Deutschland! Morgen die Welt!

“Heute Deutschland! Morgen die Welt!” (Germany today! Tomorrow the world!) was a popular slogan among the Nazis during their rise to power, not disguising at all their plans for world domination. The scale of this ambition is visible in the detail and the efficiency of the cartography of the Third Reich, and was made explicit with a series of maps related to Germany’s projected global empire.

The Steven Statharos Collection of German WWII thematic cartography is a visual representation of the development of the Third Reich’s ambitions from “Lebensraum” to global empire, including maps for use over land, air and sea.

More than 600 separate Militärgeographische Einzelangaben mapsheets, in their original publications, represent about 70 % of the Abteilung fur Kriegskarten und Vermessungswesen production from 1938 to 1944. The maps were issued almost simultaneously with the German army’s relentless march across Europe and North Africa, with a similar ruthless efficiency and methodology, supported by the Lufftwaffe in the air, and Kriegsmarine at sea.

It begins with a small but not at all insignificant book of town plans for Czechoslovakia, and culminates in the Landerweise Zusammenstellung aller Karten und Mil-Geo-Arbeiten, which includes 130 folding index maps, encompassing almost the entire world, including maps directly related to their, ultimately unsuccessful, incursions onto American soil. Operation Pastorius, planned for June of 1942, included among its targets Hell Gate Bridge in New York and Pennsylvania Station in Newark, New Jersey; and Operation Elster, in which German spies were landed at Frenchman Bay in the Gulf Maine by U-Boat, purportedly to gather intelligence on the Manhattan Project, and to sabotage it.

Each of the items in this collection carries the printed warning: “Nur fur den Dienstgebauch!” – For Offcial Use Only. Many were also designated “GEHEIM” SECRET. However, very few of the maps in this collection have seen any active use: one or two have been designated “CAPTURED MAP”; some have been annotated, in a German hand, as having been officially received; some bear the official ink stamp of the Third Reich, an eagle clutching by its talons a swastika within a wreath; or other stamps of official departments, like the Kriegsmarine, and not surprisingly, the “Mil. Geo. A[bteilung] Bibliothek”. Many more bear the ink stamps of other contemporary German libraries: the Bundesarchiv Militarchiv Amtsdrucksachen, the Zentrale Kartensammlung.

A large proportion of the Militärgeographische packets in this collection bear the ink stamp of the Heringen Collection, the subsequent ink stamps of the AMSML, and the library labels of the Pentagon library, who deaccessioned much of their map archive after 9/11. At the end of WWII, the Berlin Document Center (BDC), was created to centralize the collection of documents from the Third Reich, which were needed in preparation for the Nuremberg Trials. Some were rescued by the US Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Agents at a paper mill in Friemann, Germany, where they had been shipped by German officials to be pulped. Others were shipped to “the safety of a deep potash mineshaft in Heringen (Werra), in Hessen, Germany. A group of US Army soldiers found these lost records of the Third Reich. When removed from the Heringen mine, those records that dealt with the earth sciences, terrain analysis, military geology and other geological matters were sent to the USGS (US Geological Survey)” (R. Lee Hadden, ‘The Heringen Collection of the US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia’). Other documents were forwarded to more relevant American institutions, such as the “Army Map Service Map Library” in Washington, DC.

The collector, Steven Statharos, is the grandson of a reluctant prison guard and his prisoner, who met in a Gestapo jail in northern Greece in 1943. The collector’s grandmother was the prisoner of, and tortured by, Benjamin Locher, Pastor of the Evangelic Church of the Rhineland, and chief of the Geheime Feld-Polizei (GFP – popularly known as the Gestapo) in Greece: their family has a history in Greek resistance to Nazi occupation, and their family story is a fascinating one.

We appreciate that material from this period of history is controversial. Please rest assured that we did not take the decision to offer these maps lightly. No member of staff at Daniel Crouch Rare Books wishes to glorify or endorse any aspect of the Third Reich. However, remembering is an important part of history, and the maps themselves are, without doubt, an important archival record. After much discussion, we decided that, on balance, it was factual rather than propaganda, and there is little (if anything) included that could be seen as racist or overtly promotional. On this basis, we decided it was time to treat such material as an acceptable historical record and decided in favour of offering it. We welcome discussion and engagement with any that feel differently.

Price $190,000 – sold as a collection.

Read the complete catalogue here.