Sketch of young Adolf Hitler playing chess with Lenin put up for auction... but does it capture a genuine historical event?
By Daily Mail Reporter Their opposing ideologies would be a central part of the most destructive military clash of the 20th century. But here the battleground was just a chessboard. This remarkable picture supposedly shows Adolf Hitler pitting his wits against Vladimir Lenin. And its owners claim it is based on a real chess game between the men 100 years ago.
Art of history: This etching shows a young Adolf Hilter playing chess against Vladimir Lenin
While historians have cast doubt on its authenticity, the family which owns the picture is convinced they can prove it is genuine. The image is said to have been etched in Vienna by Hitler's art teacher, Emma Lowenstramm. It is also said to be signed on the reverse by the men who would go on to lead their respective nations. Hitler was a 20-year-old jobbing artist in the city in 1909 and Lenin - twice his age - was in exile from Russia. The house where they apparently played the game belonged to a prominent Jewish family.
Up for auction: The image and chess set, pictured, are expected to sell for about £40,000 each
In the run-up to the Second World War the family fled and gave many of their possessions, including the etching and chess set, to their housekeeper. Now the housekeeper's great-great grandson is selling the image and the chess set at auction. Both items have a pre-sale estimate of £40,000. The unnamed vendor is confident they are genuine after his father spent a lifetime attempting to prove their authenticity. He compiled a 300-page document that included results of tests on the paper and the signatures.
Richard Westwood-Brookes, of auctioneers Mullock's, said: 'The signatures in pencil are said to have an 80 per cent chance of being genuine.' Some experts, however, have questioned the picture's authenticity. Historian Helen Rappaport, author of Conspirator: Lenin in Exile, said the etching was probably a 'glorious piece of fantasy'. She said there was no evidence Lenin had been in Vienna in 1909, adding that 'he was as bald as a bat by 1894' - unlike the man pictured, who has a full head of hair. The items are to be auctioned in Ludlow, Shropshire, on October 1.