French champagne confiscated by the Nazis heads to auction





Two bottles of Champagne apprehended during World War II by the Nazis that were subsequently ‘liberated’ by an RAF serviceman are to go to auction later this month.

A bottle of Château de Mareuil-sur-Aÿ Montebello 1937 and a Heidsieck Monopole Red Top that was discovered in the aftermath of D-Day in 1944 will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on 20th June.

The bottles, the latter from an unknown date, are unopened and in excellent condition according to Hansons.

Each one bears the same red stamp in German and French that reads:

'Wehrmachts - Marketenderware Verkauf in Freien Handel verboten' 
“Sales in the free market are prohibited”
and 
'Reserve a la Wehrmacht, Achat et Revente interdits'
“Reserved for German army not for resale or purchase”
 
 
Detail from the Heidsieck Monopole label 

The insignia adorned all of the champagne seized in France following the German invasion of 1940. Although Adolf Hitler was teetotal, historians suggest as much as 80% of France’s champagne was confiscated to fuel the Nazi high command’s wild celebrations in their aftermath of their victory.

The chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering, filled vast cellars with stolen bottles, while a permanent office at Reims to control production was purposefully setup to sate demand. Such was the German’s voracious appetite for champagne, the last planes that flew into the besieged city of Stalingrad in 1942 and 1943, were carrying crates of vintage champagne to appease an increasingly desperate high command.

“It’s remarkable that these two bottles of bubbly still exist, considering the unquenchable thirst the Nazi forces had for Champagne,” Hansons’ junior valuer Elizabeth Bailey said.

“This is a rare chance to own a significant piece of World War Two memorabilia…we just hope the corks stay in place throughout the auction and that the purchaser handles with care.”

They will be entered into Hansons forthcoming June Antique and Collectors Auction on 20th, 21st and 22nd June. Viewing for the auction will take place on Wednesday 19th June from 11am until 7pm and on the morning of the sale from 9am until sale commences at 10am.
 
 

Written by: Ben Moss

Ben Moss 

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