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German historian publishes Nazi maps

A German historian on Thursday published a set of top-secret maps of Nazi Germany’s arms industry that were seized from Hermann Goering, the chief of Adolf Hitler’s air force, at the end of World War II.

The 33-map collection — titled “Goering’s Atlas” — gives insight into the Third Reich’s armament strategy and details the origins of the raw materials for the industry behind the German war machine, said Werner Abelshauser, a historian from Bielefeld University.

Goering had responsibility for planning the expansion of the arms industry in 1936. The maps show the sites of plants in Germany and occupied countries that produced powder, explosives and chemicals.

They were reserved for the use of top officials and served as a “symbol and badge of power” for Goering, Abelshauser said.

U.S. soldiers seized the maps at Hitler’s Obersalzberg complex in the Bavarian Alps after Goering’s arrest at the end of the war. U.S. military authorities photographed them and superimposed English translations of the seas and countries.

The new book reproduces a 1946 American printing that has been stored, largely forgotten, at the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington.

“The German original can’t be found,” Abelshauser told reporters. He said he was confident of the material’s authenticity after conducting extensive research.

Abelshauser said he became aware of the collection last year when a Hamburg woman offered the Archiv-Verlag publishing house a copy that she found in her father’s papers. He then discovered another copy at the Library of Congress in Washington.

Goering was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials in September 1946. He committed suicide on Oct. 15, 1946, hours before he was to be executed.