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Although the names of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin are inextricably linked by the scale of their evil, the two dictators never met.

But now a British auction house is offering an etching that purports to show a 20-year-old Hitler sitting down to a friendly game of chess with the founder of the Soviet state, Vladimir Lenin. The etching was purportedly done in 1909 by Emma Lowenstramm, who was Hitler’s art teacher and, incidentally, a Jew.

And if that weren’t enough, the etching was supposedly signed on the back by both Hitler and Lenin. Even the auction house representative selling the etching admits “this just sounds too good to be true,” although he notes that the owner’s family has amassed “300 pages” of documentation supporting the artwork’s authenticity.

Apparently it is the identification of Lenin, who was in exile in Europe in 1909 but is not known to have been in Vienna, that is the most problematic. People can’t get used to seeing him with hair, although he is well known to have worn wigs in his various disguises.

Britain's "The Daily Telegraph" interviewed historian Helen Rapport, author of "Conspirator: Lenin In Exile," who dismisses the etching as a "glorious piece of fantasy." She notes that Lenin used many aliases while he was in exile and would not have openly identified himself as Lenin. She thinks the etching more likely shows one of his fellow socialists, perhaps even an Austrian socialist.

But, if you have some extra spending money, the bidding starts at 40,000 pounds.

-- Robert Coalson

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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