Stonewall WWII collector finds Hitler, Goering artifacts
By Richard Zowie— If the doorknobs and the carpet from Mike Morris’ recent acquisition of World War II artifacts could talk, their stories would probably attract World War II enthusiasts.
They might also attract interest from the Mossad (Israel’s equivalent of the CIA).
Morris, a semi-retired businessman who lives in Stonewall, likes to collect military artifacts. Among the items in his most recent acquisition are swords, warm clothing worn by aviation crews, photographs, two doorknobs and a carpet from World War II.
The doorknobs and carpet stand out, due to their origins.
The first doorknob is an ornate curved metal handle and looks as if taken from the front door of the sprawling estate of a multimillionaire. The second one is L-shaped and nondescript and more closely resembles a bent pipe. The carpet is green and unremarkable.
According to Morris, a self-described “lifelong treasure hunter,” the ornate doorknob came from a mountain retreat home belonging to German Air Force commander Hermann Goering while the plain doorknob and carpet came from the retreat of “Der Führer” himself, Adolf Hitler.
Accompanying the artifacts is a statement signed by John Lewis, the son of WWII Army officer Lt. Francis N. Lewis. In 1945, while serving in Europe with the 735th Railway Operating Battalion, Lewis brought back the three items as souvenirs during two visits to Hitler and Goering’s retreats in Berchtesgaden (a southeastern German town in the Bavarian Alps, about five miles west of the Austrian border).
The letter states that the plain door handle came from one of the bedrooms in Hitler’s home (known as “Eagle’s Nest”) while the carpet also came from his home. The fancy door handle was from an outside door at Goering’s home.
Morris, who was born in 1937 and was seven when the Germans surrendered to end World War II, describes himself as an aficionado of World War II collecting. He especially likes to collect German memorabilia, due to its historical significance and its value as an investment.
“I threw newspapers at 13, and when I collected, the WWII vets I’d see would have their stuff on display on coffee tables,” Morris said. “I was fascinated by the quality of it. After the war, everybody was glued to the swastika since we’d just beat Germany. They’d give me things and that’s what got me started.”
Morris particularly likes to collect artifacts with historical connections to Hitler, Goering, Heinrich Himmler (leader of the Schutzstaffel, better known as the “SS”), their families or people connected to them.
“When I started in business, I got refueled on collecting German stuff,” Morris said. “I’m glad I did, since this stuff goes up 12-15 percent a year in value.”
In his years collecting WWII memorabilia, Morris also contributed to a book titled “Sacking Aladdin’s Cave: Plundering Hermann Göring’s Nazi War Trophies.”
Kenneth D. Alford wrote the book while Morris provided information and Thomas M. Johnson merchandised it. The book chronicles the gold and silver, artwork and other valuable items found in Goering’s possession. It also focuses on Morris’ pursuits searching for collectibles and artifacts.
“Collecting is more than just an investment, it also has historical value,” Morris said. “It’s a reminder of what we had to go through in WWII to protect our freedom. Most people today just see video games and fantasy movies instead of getting the true-life stories.”
For more information about Morris’ collection, he can be reached by e-mail anytime at [email protected].