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Beatles memorabilia, with George Harrison ‘Hitler’ greeting card, up for auction

An archive of Beatles memorabilia that is to go up for auction later this month includes a birthday card from guitarist George Harrison in which he apparently made references to Nazi wartime leader Adolf Hitler.

Other items in the sale include a section of the television set wall that was the backdrop for the British pop band’s live appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, considered a turning point in the group’s career, along with clothes, speakers, and signed contracts.

The birthday note is described by the auction house as an “intriguing document in the form of an innocent greeting card” against the backdrop of allegations that Harrison was a collector of Nazi and Hitler memorabilia.

In 1991 Harrison sued US tabloid Globe magazine for $200 million after it published extracts from a biography claiming he was fascinated by Hitler, including displaying Nazi memorabilia in his home and publicly wearing a Nazi uniform.

At the time, entertainment lawyer Bert Fields, who represented the Beatles in a number of lawsuits, told the LA Times that Harrison “deplores everything Hitler stood for and can’t imagine anything worse they could have said about him than to say he was a Nazi sympathizer.”

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The case was eventually settled five years later with the Globe making a payout to Harrison.

Subsequently, a Beatles researcher uncovered a birthday card that Harrison sent to the caretaker of his Hawaii estate, Steve Schrink.

The auction house describes the card as including a handwritten note “Fritliche to Steve – Happy [crossed out] Fritliche Gebirstag mein frund [“Happy Birthday my friend,” in German] from Adolf Schickengruber – George, Olivia and Dhani.”

Schicklgruber was the family name of Hitler’s father, which he later changed.

It also has a cartoon drawing of what appears to be Hitler, complete with a swastika on his necktie.

“This is certainly not to say Harrison was a believer in the Nazi ideal, but perhaps it showcases a certain degree of intrigue that led to the high-profile prior reports being made,” the auction description says. “Perhaps it was simply a reference to the house caretaker’s strict rule over Harrison’s Hawaiian manor?

“Penned entirely in Harrison’s hand in a blue ballpoint pen, the card is well preserved and stands in overall fine condition,” it says.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their bed-in peace protest at the Hilton Hotel, Amsterdam, 1969. (Courtesy of Yoko Ono Lennon via AP)

Other handwritten items in the auction are from John Lennon and Yoko Ono during their famous 1969 bed-in peace protest at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. A local teenage girl talked her way into their room and reached an agreement with the famous couple that she would collection questions from adoring fans in the lobby, send them up to their room on a piece of paper, after which they would mail the response to her at home. Lennon and Ono kept their word and the page includes their thoughts on taking drugs and criticism of their stay-in-bed protest.

The collection is to be offered by the GottaHaveRockandRoll auction house in New York on September 22 and is expected raise up to $8 million in total, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday.