This year for the first time I decided to go to visit the "Waffenbörse" in Stuttgart. Since I had one week vacation, I took the opportunity to visit the Southern part of Germany (Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg), which I already visited several times in the past.
The first day I visited (for the third time) the Schloss Neuschwanstein… it’s always quite a sight (http://www.schloesser.bayern.de/
) . To tell you the truth I rather wanted to visit a newly opened private Gebirgsjäger’s Museum in Sonthofen, Allgäu (see link : http://www.museum-der-deutschen-gebirgstruppe.de/
), but unfortunately it is only open on Sundays. The person responsible of the Museum, Mr. Martin Stehböck (a very appropriate name for a Bavarian person interested in the History of the GJ), although he was very cooperative and kind find a date in order to organize a special guided tour through the exposition, we couldn’t schedule a "rendez-vous" due to the Easter vacations. After that I would have liked to visit the "Adlerhorst" next to the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, but the tea house on the top of a the Kehlstein (link: http://www.berchtesgadener-land.com/...nhaus/home.htm
), but it’s only open from mid May until October. From up there, there is a breathtaking sight over the Austrian alps… I will surely keep this sightseeing for the next trip! After that we slept in a very fine Hotel in Bad Tölz (does this place ring a bell to you?), a beautiful middle-age town on the Isar with a intact old center with fantastic ancient Bavarian over-decorated buildungs. We found also the former "Kaserne" of the Waffen-SS, only because my brother recognized the two tyical towers with a conical pointed roof on the entrance. On the pictures of 40’s the "Kaserne" was still in the countryside, outside the town. Nowadays is sorrounded of buildungs. The interesting thing is that the "Kaserne" is going to be a very modern Geriatric health center. The first part has already been rebuilt and it looks very nice…
During the second day I visited Munich, the capital of Bavaria. Always worth a visit! I was lucky enough to discover a quite economic but clean hotel near the Isar Tor very close (five minutes walk) to the famous Viktualienmarkt. I just browsed around in the center of the city. I love to eat in this typical Bavarian restaurant. For instance we ate in a Restaurant close to the Rathaus in a section called "die Wachstube" with lots of old stamps illustrating soldiers of the old Bavarian army (Jäger, Leibgarde, etc.). I was looking for a good repro of a Bierkrug (Stein) of the old German soldiers who had finished the military service and went into the reserve. I found many of them but in really cheap and bad quality, typical of nowaday’s production. The ones produced in the 50-60s were of better quality and hand painted. I found a shop close to the Hofbräuhaus, which had to of them for a very good price, but it was unfortunately closed.
The third day I visited the Bavarian Army Museum in the Castle of Ingoldstadt (about 1 hour North of Munich, link : )
Always a visit worth: great display of Bavarian Orders and Medals (all of them), nice collection of WWII Iron Crosses (all the classes until a KC of the IC with oakleaves swords and diamonds, I particularly enjoyed a "Wiederholungsspange zum EK 1. 1914" first model), beautiful imperial Bavarian uniforms (especially a tunic with Tschako of the jägers owned by the Prinz Regent, the tschako-plate was enamaled like for the Generals), a breathtaking hall with all the regimental flags of the old Bavarian army and last but not least an impressive collection of toys and beautiful and painstakinly correct reproduction of large diaramas of the battle of Leuthen (Friedrich der Grosse) and the battle of Leipzig 1813 (Napoleon against Austrians and Russians). We fought that it was finished there… not really! Outside the castle on the other side of the Danube there is in a old 16th century fortress named after Tilly a permanent exposition of WWI. It’s the best exposition on WWI I have ever seen, told from the German perspective. Very nice indeed… We were almost alone and a museum "Beamte" had time enough to chit chat with us and guide us through the museum. I stop here because I could talk (write) for hours…
The forth day was our D-Day: our first time in Stuttgart by the Waffenbörse! I found a very comfortable and well located hotel on the internet… in real life the hotel it’s even better! Only two U-Bahn stations from the show, its name: Dorint City Stuttgart, Heilbronnerstr. 88, Stuttgart.
As I expected at 10:00 was forming a long line in order to enter… it was almost ridicolous! The people almost took by assault the best placed dealers at the entrance (like: Weitze and Winkler).
I have to say: to me it was even better than the Max show or the SOS in Louisville. The choice on the smaller items and imperial stuff is really good. I wasn’t too much interested in 3rd Reich Award this time. I was "burned" so many time in the past that I looked for a good and solid imperial order. All the most important German dealers present on the interned were attending in Stuttgart, here my comments:
I had finally the pleasure to meet him personally. Very fine person and had time and patience to listen to my inquiries and questions. A typical fine educated German person, always "politically correct" and fair to everybody. He goes to show to buy from collectors and dealers in order to "feed" his Friday’s updates
Very impressive display of items, helpful co-workers… Maybe I didn’t shop with Weitze because of his typical German negative attitude: slightly arrogant. I am sorry to say that, because I really like German people generally, like everybody else, since I am living abroad since 10 years in different places of the world)
Wow! I have never seen such a huge selection of the badges and awards… (there were like 20-30 pieces each type… panzer, infanty, etc…) The prices were the same like on his website; expensive! I saw all his items, which were unsold since months on the web, especially the visor caps. Maybe he should go down a little with the prices. He seemed to be a bit under pressure by the stress of the first wave’s attacks of many visitors. He had to very fine elderly helpers, very nice people, but like in many other cases, helpers have always to ask their boss’ permission for price, price’s reduction, trades, etc.
Hüsken, Galerie d’Histoire:
Nice selection of Imperial stuff, helpful co-workers (they didn’t know the pricing as usual…), but generally over priced
Janke: I finally met Herr Janke... famous for his "re-enactors repro". What an ass!!! Although there was some M36 for 270.- Euro (about USD 250.-), he was extremely unpleaseant in his manners. When I asked a simple question like "do you have a Fliegerbluse?" he answered in German in a very rude and arrogant way, making some ironical comments on my question to another friend or client next to him. To me this is a hobby and It want to have fun. If doensn't make any fun to me, then it's over. I want only to deal with persons who can earn my respect and are friendly to me as I try to be with them. If my money stinks to them or I am treated as if I was a jerk to suck some money from, than "kannst du mich mal ..." That's my way. I didn't look any further to make business with this people.
I didn’t look too much in their stuff. I keep myself busy with dealer I can fully trust.
Impressive selection of items of his next auction. However I was more impressed by his cute female blonde young co-worker, who very likely had no clue on the items shown there.
Very nice exposition of his next auction: it’s main field is Imperial collectibles, really nice! It was like to be in a museum… the only thing I was a bit disappointed of the Kaiser’s Jäger Tschako he had exposed; I was under the impression that the Kaiser’s items had to be of a finer quality… just my humble opinion (there were some details I didn’t like).
The best… too bad that next auction is very small and that normally his medals and medal bars are always reaching top bids.
I enjoyed very much to meet also another member of the forum of Wehrmacht’s Award Association: Frank (also known as Munich on the net). Too bad that we didn’t have to much time to speak, since we were both so busy in browsing around like "crazy". This hobby is really an addiction! I also had the priviledge to meet experts of the caliber of Mr. Schulze Ising, specialized in Imperial orders (website: www.medalnet.net
). Furthermore I saw some dealers I already met in Italy. It’s also very important for dedicated collectors to have a good network of people (collectors and dealers who are also collecting) in order to trade or find other sources who might help me in filling the gaps in my collection.
Negative points of the fair:
Many dealers exposed their items still in DEM (German Mark), especially the small items, and didn’t convert the price in Euro. If you didn’t ask they would have sold them to you in Euro for the double price.
Exposition aerea should be as big as in Louisville: there at the SOS there is so much place and everybody can get closer to the stands.
For dealers in Germany "it ain’t easy", too! I just saw German police officers going aroung and check if all the svastikas were covered by tape, as stated in German law. In one case two cops (one must have been an high officer… 4 Golden stars on the shoulder board) had fined a dealer because he covered the svastika on three belt buckles, but forgot to cover the motto "Blut und Ehre", which by German laws can be understood as "nazy slogan". I think they are going to far… how long should we wait until all this will ever end? Shouldn’t we cover the communists symbols too, or are they more politacally correct? Was the symbol N for Napoleon also after 1815 also banned in France? Should we cover it too? On the other hand you see everywhere pornoshops, maybe selling also pedofile movies and I was surprised that the porno channel in my hotel room’s TV was easily accessible to anyone… also to kids! So morality has two faces after all…
Again for dealers it’s really expensive to get a stand in the hall… therefore the high prices.
Collectors beware! I didn’t look too much into 3rd Reich collectibles but it seemed that there are a lot of very good fakes. I never saw so many dealers selling so many German WWII medal bars, composed by cheap medals and all with the same ribbon type of mounting and strange compositions.
I was overwhelmed by the great choice offere at this Show. I bought a nice Imperial order and my brother tried to find ribbons adnd small devices (15mm) in order to finish his ribbons’ collection and add them to the webpage of the Wehrmacht’s award as reference. Furthermore we found quite a lot of interesting shoulder boards, collar tabs and a few nicely sigle mounted medals, my brother’s special aerea of collecting.
Thank you very much for your patience in reading this report and please feel free to ask me more questions if you need pictures of the Museum in Ingolstadt.