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Behind a bookcase, a secret passageway leads to a trove of Nazi artifacts in Argentina

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The international police agency Interpol discovered one of the largest and most disturbing sets of Nazi artifacts this month in a northern suburb of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

Agents became aware of a collector of historical artifacts who they say had procured items “under UNESCO's red alert,” referring to the United Nations organization tasked with cultural preservation. This month, with the power of a judicial order, they raided the collector's house, according to Clarín, an Argentine newspaper. Behind a bookcase, a secret passageway led to a room where they found the biggest trove of original World War II-era artifacts in Argentina's history.

They were put on display at the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations in Buenos Aires on Monday. Many Nazi higher-ups fled to Argentina in the waning days of the war, and investigators believe that officials close to Adolf Hitler brought the artifacts with them. Many items were accompanied by photographs, some with Hitler holding them.

“This is a way to commercialize them, showing that they were used by the horror, by the Fuhrer. There are photos of him with the objects,” Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told the Associated Press.

The objects include a device used to measure heads, seen in the picture below. Nazis believed that one could distinguish a Jew from someone belonging to the supposed Aryan race by head measurements.

The trove also includes a bust relief of Hitler, magnifying glasses embossed with swastikas (as well as a photo of Hitler holding the same or a similar instrument), a large statue of an eagle above a swastika, silverware, binoculars, a trumpet and a massive swastika-studded hourglass.

Masterminds of the Nazis' Holocaust Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann both fled to Argentina as their counterparts were put on trial for war crimes in Germany. Both lived in houses near Béccar, the suburb where the new trove was found.

The 75 artifacts found in this passageway provide more evidence of similar crimes. Police are now investigating how exactly the artifacts made it into Argentina, thinking, perhaps, about which other Nazi leaders may have entered the country unbeknown to the world.

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