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Could this have been Hitler's clock?

PUBLISHED: 17:25 06 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:09 07 July 2010

A gilded bronze clock which could have ticked away the final hours of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime has resurfaced in a new antiques shop in Dereham.

The elaborate timepiece, believed to be a British soldier's prized memento of victory in the Second World War, is one of many historical collectables brought to the shop opened by Breckland councillor and former Dereham mayor Michael Fanthorpe.

A gilded bronze clock which could have ticked away the final hours of Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime has resurfaced in a new antiques shop in Dereham.

The elaborate timepiece, believed to be a British soldier's prized memento of victory in the Second World War, is one of many historical collectables brought to the shop opened by Breckland councillor and former Dereham mayor Michael Fanthorpe.

Mr Fanthorpe said the clock belonged to a soldier despatched to the dictator's bunker after the fall of Berlin in 1945, whose wife refused to display it in her home and chose to sell it after her husband's death.

Made in 1935 and topped with a bronze German eagle, the antiques dealer said the quality of the clock meant it could have come from the desk of the Führer himself - but he was waiting for proof before offering it for sale.

“It must have belonged to someone in that bunker and the quality of it means it certainly could have belonged to Hitler,” he said.

“No-one would have had a clock like that in Germany at the time - you would almost have to be the top man. It is five-star quality bronze and a five-star Swiss movement. If I can find a photograph of it on his desk, then who knows how much it could make.”

Fanthorpe's Antiques and Collectibles opened in January in a renovated medieval barn forming a small arcade of shops off Norwich Street - opposite his family's former antiques shop which closed in 1984.

Mr Fanthorpe, also a hairdresser in Fakenham, said the shop was primarily opened to collect items which he could sell at international antiques fairs.

Among the clocks, watches, jewellery and other collectibles are pocket watches issued to British officers and a framed photograph showing German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels on holiday in 1942.

“We are amazed how much unusual German stuff from the war is being brought in for us to buy,” said Mr Fanthorpe.

“Many of our brave soldiers brought these artefacts back with them. I would certainly not have it in my house but lots of people are collecting this kind of thing at the moment.”

Mr Fanthorpe runs the shop with his wife Avril, who he met at an antiques fair in 2005. She is half German and said the time had come for artefacts from the Nazi regime to be seen purely in their historical context.

“A lot of people do collect Nazi memorabilia now because it is part of the past,” she said. “They have not suffered the pain their parents or grandparents did - the bitterness has worn away and they have opened their horizons.”

One customer, Romanian-born Magda Forrest from Fakenham, said: “It could be a triumph over evil if someone bought Hitler's clock because then it is yours and not his any more.”

Fanthorpe's Antiques and Collectibles is open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.

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