Lot 699A

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An extraordinarily well-accomplished and attractive war-date oil on canvas painting of German General HANS KLEIN (1891-18 November 1944). This important artwork, 27 1/4" x 31 1/4", depicts the ace in a left chest, up profile in uniform. He bears a determined expression, earned over time commencing with his days dueling at school and evidenced by the scars shown on his cheek. Klein's Pour le Merite is prominently shown at his neckline, with other awards also visible, including his Iron Cross. In the background lies a small town, one side of which is in flames. This the artist added to demonstrate the (righteous) destruction wrought by Klein and the war in general. The painting is signed by its artist, OTTO LANG-WOLLIN (1881-1958) at bottom, with the addition of the date: "Aug. 1917" This fine work is in superb condition, and is set into a period bronzed wood frame. With a signed letter of provenance from Klein's son, Hans Juergen Klein, stating that the painting had remained in his family until its sale in 2015.

Major General Hans Klein had an illustrious military career, and it appears that he died for his country as well. Born in Prussia, Klein briefly served as an infantryman before transferring to the aviation service in March, 1916. He was credited with his first confirmed aerial victory on April 4, 1917; by the time Bloody April ended, his tally was up to eight, including an observation balloon and a pioneering night-time victory. On Sep. 27, 1917, Klein assumed command of Jagdstaffel 10. By Oct. 2, he had already been awarded both classes of the Iron Cross and the Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern. and on Dec. 2, 1917 he was awarded the Pour Le Merite. Wounded twice in aerial combat, Klein lost a digit of his hand to his enemies. In 1935 Klein joined the Luftwaffe as a major, commanding JG 133 and JG 53 in late 1939. He later served as deputy commander of all fighter schools and attained the rank of major general before his retirement in April 1943.

The "official line" concerning Klein's death attributed it to a car accident. However, various statements by family members, including his widow and researchers, indicate otherwise. Apparently, following the accident Klein's family was not allowed a private viewing of the general's body. His brother-in-law was able to get access to the corpse and discovered a bullet hole in the back of Klein's head. Klein, like many Pour Le Merite recipients, may have been opposed to Hitler's leadership late in the war and he joined the July Plot and was discovered, or he may have possessed knowledge of someone else's involvement in the plot and was killed to insure his silence. Certainly an individual worthy of additional research.

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December 9, 2015 10:30 AM EST
Chesapeake City, MD, US

Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

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Bid Increments
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$0 $99 $10
$100 $499 $20
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 + $10,000