It was a newspaper dated 1945 that appeared first. When he saw it, he got goosebumps, Sebastian Yurtseven told local media.
I didn't think it would become such an important discovery. More than just a diary, it was an entire cache of Nazi artifacts that he finally unearthed.
It all started when Yurtseven was doing work on his aunt's house in the town of Hagen, about 20 kilometres from Dortmund in Eastern Germany. In mid-July, the region was hit by severe flooding that caused extensive damage to many properties.
Sebastian Yurtseven was looking behind a loose plasterboard when he came across a brick structure. Inside: a newspaper from 1945, but also old letters, documents, a portrait of Adolf Hitler, gas masks, brass knuckles, a revolver and objects bearing a swastika and the Nazi party eagle.
Yurtseven said the house was purchased by his family in the 1960s and that no one knew about the cache, which some have already described as a 'Nazi time capsule.' A team from the Hagen City Archives and Museum came to collect the artefacts for examination, but their story has already begun to unfold.
Hastily abandoned by a Nazi organisation
According to historians, the home would have housed an office of the National Socialist People's Relief (NSV), a social welfare organisation of the National Socialist Party founded in 1931 that provided material aid, ensured supplies and supervised various allowances and insurances for the population.
The NSV followed Nazi ideologies and restricted its assistance to individuals considered healthy and 'racially superior.' The organisation, which had 17 million members in 1943, was disbanded after the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Allies passed a law banning the National Socialist Party and all its organs.
Experts believe that all the items found in the house were hidden in the 30-centimetre-wide cavity when American forces took the town in April 1945. 'It must have been a very eventful time,' Ralf Blank, historian and head of the Hagen Archives, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine. He continued:
These hasty disposal operations are known from countless campaign diaries, but to actually be able to secure such a discovery once is really a very exciting thing.
The documents will indeed provide unprecedented insight into the activities and actions of a local office of a relatively unknown organisation.
Documents dating back to 1928
'We hope, for example, to find documents relating to the distribution of so-called Jewish furniture,' he added. Studies have shown that the NSV benefited in part from the expropriation of Jews and the confiscation of their property. The earliest letter in the lot that was found dates back to 1928.
According to the Westfalenpost, several documents showed the signature of the alleged head of the office, a senior official who lived in a street in the north of the city and died in the 1960s, well after the end of the regime. The knuckles are said to bear witness to Nazi violence against communists in street fights.
The objects, most of which are in good condition, will be examined in greater detail by specialists from the city archives and archaeologists from the Westphalia-Lippe region. Some of them will then be exhibited in the Hagen city museum.