by: the Common Constitutionalist:
As Christmas draws near, I thought I might depart, if only for a day, from the political arena where I usually reside, and present something a little less controversial.
Did I say less controversial? Well, you be the judge.
A rare toy figure of Adolf Hitler made for German children was revealed last year by the son of a World War II soldier for the first time.
The figure of the fascist dictator was part of a collection of toys U.S Private Jerome Beaulier bought at a toy shop in Germany at the end of the war in exchange for cigarettes and chocolate bars.
He mailed them back to his five-year-old son Jerry, who received them in 1945 and has kept them ever since.
The four-inch tall Hitler figure is seated in the front passenger seat of a German army jeep alongside three soldiers.
Other toys included in the set are an anti-aircraft gun, several field guns, another truck with a huge search light attached and a First World War German biplane.
His son, Lieutenant Commander Jerry Beaulier, 72, from St Andrews, Scotland, took them along to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow when the program visited his home town.
He said: ‘Dad was a half-track driver in the war and had parked up in a town on the German-Austria border when he found the toy shop.
Beaulier added that he remembered playing with them as a child and “I got a great deal of pleasure out of them.”
He said that, “there were half-a-dozen Adolf Hitler figures to begin with, but my dad used to have my uncle round and they would set the Hitler figures up and use them for shooting practice with their air guns. Mum would go mad. This one is the only Hitler figure I have left. I had another of him standing in a car doing the Nazi salute but dad shot it.”
Like many soldiers who fought during WWI, Beaulier said his “dad didn’t talk too much about the war and when he did it was usually light-hearted.”
His dad, Pvt Beaulier, served in the US Army 9th Armored Division from 1943 until the end of the war.
Jerry Beaulier joined the US Navy and served as a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War.
He later moved to St Andrews where he lives today.
James Taylor, a researcher at the Imperial War Museum, said: ‘The toys reflected the time in Nazi society,” and that, “Toys of Hitler were common in Germany back then, as well as other well-known figures in the Nazi regime.” Another expert added that the toys were as much for propaganda and indoctrination as the were for pleasure.
Hilary Kay, an expert from the Antiques Roadshow, said: “These toys show the military power of Germany leading up to the Second World War. The figure of Hitler was quite normal and what a young German boy in 1934-5-6-7 leading up to the war, would have wanted.”
More than 20 different versions of the Fuehrer were produced in a multitude of uniforms – and many, like one of Beaulier’s, had a right arm which could be raised to give the Nazi salute.
Attribution: Emma Clark