GERMAN police offered a reward yesterday for an SS Death’s Head ring stolen by Nazi memorabilia hunters from an exhibition at Hitler’s former retreat in the Bavarian Alps.
The ring is inscribed with the signature of Heinrich Himmler and was awarded by the SS chief to one of his officers. Such rings are regarded as a big prize on the multimillion-pound Nazi souvenir market and fetch about £8,000 on the internet.
Himmler presented the rings personally and read out a citation that ended: “The Death’s Head ring cannot be bought or sold and must never fall into the hands of those who are not entitled to use it . . . Wear the ring with honour!”
It was taken very seriously by the SS. In the case of death, the ring was removed from the corpse and handed to the unit commander, who arranged for it to be sent to Wewelsburg Castle in Germany, where Hitler had created an SS shrine.
About 14,500 rings were awarded. By January 1945, 64 per cent had been returned to the shrine, 26 per cent were still held by SS officers and 10 per cent were lost on the battlefield. In the spring of 1945 Himmler ordered the rings in the shrine to be blast-sealed into the side of a mountain near Wewelsburg Castle.
They have never been found. As a result there are only about 3,000 genuine rings in circulation. This ring was stolen a few weeks ago, and the police offered the €1,000 (£670) reward after it failed to appear on the internet memorabilia market.
The Turks continue to deny the 'Armenian Holocaust':
DAYS before he goes on trial for publicly discussing his country’s slaughter of a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks, Orhan Pamuk, the most prominent Turkish writer, sounds anything but repentant.
The Turkish Government is afraid to stand up to a nationalist old guard, he told The Times. It is concealing information from its people. It is making only cosmetic reforms of repressive laws to win membership of the European Union.
He said: “I am a writer. It is humiliating to live in a country where this subject [the Armenian massacre of 1915-17] is a taboo and cannot be discussed.”
Mr Pamuk’s defiance will not play well in Ankara. His trial, which opens in Istanbul next Friday, has become an acute embarrassment for the Government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His conviction would play into the hands of countries, such as France and Germany, that oppose Turkish membership of the EU. Hundreds of supporters are expected to provide fodder for European television crews by demonstrating outside the court.
Mr Pamuk’s alleged crime was to tell a Swiss newspaper this year that “a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in these lands and no one but me dares to talk about it” — a reference not only to the Armenian slaughter but also to the two-decades-old conflict in southeast Turkey between Kurdish insurgents and the army.
CLUMSY typing cost a Japanese bank at least £128 million and staff their Christmas bonuses yesterday, after a trader mistakenly sold 600,000 more shares than he should have.
The trader at Mizuho Securities, who has not been named, fell foul of what is known in financial circles as “fat finger syndrome” where a dealer types incorrect details into his computer. He wanted to sell one share in a new telecoms company called J Com, for 600,000 yen (about £3,000).
Unfortunately, the order went through as a sale of 600,000 shares at 1 yen each.
The slip caused immediate shockwaves in the Tokyo market as traders tried to guess which firm had made the mistake. Fearing the impact, traders sold shares in all Japanese broking houses and the sell-off led to the value of the Nikkei 225 falling 2 per cent. It was only later that Mizuho admitted that one of its traders had made the error.
The order slipped through at about 9.30am and, one CLSA broker explained, “until the culprit firm was named around tea time, investors spent the day dumping the shares of every listed brokerage in Japan, in case it had been them”.
If Mizuho has to accept the loss, it may have to sell many of its stockholdings to raise the money, creating further pressure on Japanese stocks.
Mizuho said it was discussing with the Tokyo stock exchange how to deal with the matter. There is a chance that Mizuho will persuade the Tokyo exchange, which is under pressure for allowing the obviously mistaken trade to go ahead, to have it cancelled.
As if the hapless trader was not unpopular enough, the firm also cancelled its end-of-year party, scheduled for last night.