The Diplomatic General's Visor Cap of Otto Bene
The Diplomatic General's Visor Cap of Otto Bene; Provenance: This extremely rare visor was retrieved by a member of the Canadian Seaforth Highlanders as they liberated Amsterdam on May 8th 1945. The visor itself was retrieved directly from the desk of its owner Otto Bene. Bene was born September 20th, 1884 in Altenberg. He was a student at the Humanist Gymnasium in Marburg. He did an apprenticeship with a cloth merchant in Frankfurt, after which he was active in southern China and Hamburg. From August 1914 until 1919 he took part in the First World War as a Reserve Leutnant. After the War he was a partner in an import/ export firm in Hamburg and London. On the 1st of December, 1931, while in London, he joined the NSDAP and became a Regional Group Leader of the NSDAP in London. In 1934 he became a National Group Leader in Great Britain and Ireland. Since the 14th of March, 1936, he served as General Consul of the Foreign Office, on in June of 1937 was stationed in Milan. From 1939 until October 1941 he was appointed by the Reich Government with the task of settlement in South Tirol, serving in the rank of Envoy from January 1940. In 1939 he became a Standartenfuhrer of the SS, in 1942 he was promoted to SS-Brigadefuhrer. From May 8th, 1940 until the end of the War he was the representative of Reichsminister Arthur Seyß-Inquart for the Foreign Office of the Reich’s Commissar for the Occupied Region of the Netherlands. Politically he was not influential, rather acting merely as Ribbentrop’s “eyes and ears.” While in that position he developed initiatives for the deportation of Jews from the Netherlands. He would regularly report on the progress of the deportations, as well as on the cooperation, nazification, and resistance of the local population. One such report reads: Since my report dated September 11th, 1942, the evacuation of the Jews to the Auschwitz Camp had proceeded without incident. By October 15throughly 45,000 Jews were deported. The Reichskommissar has ordered that all Jews must be evacuated by May 1st, 1943. This means that the weekly quota has to be increased from 2000 to 3500. This fine quality cap has three rows of finely braided gold bullion piping, with the body of the cap fabricated from a gray wool, featuring the classic high peak and rounded saddle-shaped sides. It has a black wool band around its circumference, which supports a three-colour cockade on the front, in silver bullion and blackened wire with a red felt centre, framed by a wide wreath of oak leaves in gold bullion, the veins of the oak leaves defined by raised twisted gold wire. Immediately above on the crown is an intricately detailed, spread-winged eagle cap insignia in gold bullion on a gray wool base, it's talons firmly gripping a wreathed swastika, the insignia indicative of personnel employed in state service, Government officials, etc. Some of the twisted orange cord that gives definition to the wings remains, with the remainder having been lost to time. The visor is black vulcanfibre with a gold bullion cord above, in two rows, knotted in the appropriate-style on the sides and held in position via pebbled gilt posts on both sides (the cord and posts are independent of the cap itself). The underside of the visor is synthetic and finished in light gray. The dark gray sweatband is leather, perforated along the front edge with five tiny rows of forty ventilation holes each, with the two ends tied together at the rear seam with a light brown ribbon. The dome itself has a light green rayon liner, with a clear moisture shield, a paper inserted into the owner's name slot inscribed in black ink "BENE". Overall, it measures 242 mm x 285 mm x 165 mm in height. The cap has experienced light soiling on the exterior and light contact on the visor, along with soiling on the rayon dome liner and leather sweatband from very active use, along with the aforementioned loss of twisted orange cord in the gold bullion eagle cap insignia. However, it continues to exhibit smooth quality in the wool, plus quality workmanship, maintaining its original period look. Near Extremely fine.