No, this is not American History X; no, I have not somehow turned against my principles, and no, my name is not Eva Braun. I am, however, currently in the company of Hitler, from the neck up at least (him that is). Now before you all start accusing this fine establishment of being white supremacists let me explain why I’m currently being stared at by a bust of one Adolf Hitler.
As some of you may know Between the Covers’s main hub was formerly an old school building. Those of you lucky enough to have gained entry to our Fortress of Solitude may have seen the piles of white banker’s boxes stacked just about everywhere. They’re constantly being reused so you can never really trust anything written on the outside of them, or so I thought. One fateful day, as I was collecting another box of books to catalog from the boiler room, I spotted a box that read “Hitler’s Head.” Hmm. Assuming it was some inside joke I wasn’t privy to, I decided to open it. Guess what? It was Hitler’s head.
Of course I wouldn’t be surprised if over the years Tom had somehow managed to acquire a famous skull, or perhaps a celebrity femur, but alas this was not the case with Adolf. In the box, shrouded in a grey sack, I saw the creepy empty sculpted eyes of Der Führer. You would think someone at the height of their power would be a little more cheerful looking. Mildly distressed I brought it to the attention of our fearless leader, Tom.
And thus, did he spin me a yarn. It was a magical tale of booksellers, car crashes, and espionage. Ok, maybe there weren’t any spies. Or magic either, come to think of it. Apparently, long ago, John Wronoski of Lame Duck Books, previously a partner of Mr. Congalton’s, purchased a collection of rare German material. Seems cut and dry, but wait! What’s this?
The German-born, New York dealer, Peter Tumarkin, who was selling these things to John, had an added bonus, er…demand. He insisted that if John took the books, then Hitler’s bust would have to be included with the lot. Not surprisingly Mr. Tumarkin didn’t want to be seen peddling or even possessing a dictator.
What do you do with the head of a man who is that evil? It’s not like you can donate it to your friendly neighborhood Klavern of the Ku Klux Klan. Well I suppose you could…but no, I think not. Our good friend John, apparently adept at the game of hot potato, decided to bring it to Tom at his Merchantville shop, but not without first giving it a clever disguise. Wearing stylish sunglasses and a baseball cap one could hardly tell it was Hitler! He could have easily passed as a stern businessman, or perhaps just a minor despot, or at the very, very least, an extra from Weekend at Bernie’s.
For the next decade poor Adolf was left alone in an attic, head in a box, to reflect upon what he had done. There’s a bit of a moral dilemma when Hitler’s involved, as one might imagine. While keeping him certainly looks bad, selling him feels even worse, especially if he was to be sold to someone who actually wants him.
Some of you may be wondering what happened to the New York bookseller who started all of this. Well, I’m sorry to report that Mr. Tumarkin was killed in England after being hit by a black Vauxhall Corsa in 2004. Is Hitler’s head cursed? Are we unleashing the same fate as those who opened Tut’s tomb? Who can be sure? For now, the dictator remains in his box, in a warehouse, and we have our top men working on it.