German WWII Stalag POW Hand Carved Keg and Period Photography by Named U.S. Officer

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Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This set is comprised of a truly amazing hand-carved schnapps keg and photographic history of a Stalag for German POWs during WWII. This totally unique WW2 collection was the property of Lt. Vincent J. Passarelli, an officer on the staff of a POW camp in southern Europe toward the end of the Second World War.

The irresistible piece of this set is the beautifully carved Gasthaus Meister holding a keg over his shoulder. This unique sculpture was carved by a German woodworking craftsman who was a POW at the camp and presented it as a gift to Lt. Passarelli and it’s a real pisser. The keg is borne on the shoulder of a burly Gasthaus Meister and it really works; just lift his leather apron to find out how! For added authenticity and provenance we include an original photo of this sculpture in use by Lt. Passarelli and fellow U.S. officer in our about the year 1945.

The photographs in the collection are all contact prints from large format negatives and are exceptionally sharp and detailed. They were clearly taken by a professional Signal Corps photographer, as they all show careful composition, focus, and exposure. Since they document the entire process of construction, the photographer had to have been assigned to the project for a period of several months.

The large photo album, which features a stylized VJP on a leather medallion on its cover, documents in detail the entire process of the construction of a very large camp for German prisoners of war. We do not know the name of the camp, nor its exact location, but we can deduce from internal evidence that it was in a warm climate—none of the barracks have stove pipes—and that it was in Europe, as all the vehicles shown have the invasion star painted prominently on their upper surfaces. It was built on a former racetrack and the surrounding land.

The smaller photo album consists of front and rear leather boards and 36 prints, but it has no spine. In this album, each image is attached to a heavy, textured board, and each board is signed Vince in pencil. Whereas the large album documents the construction of the camp, this set of prints shows daily life in the camp after construction was finished. Of special interest are images of work in a shop that makes stringed instruments. Like the prints in the large album, these are all contact prints of large-format negatives, done professionally.

We’ve seen a lot of personal photo albums from the War, but they always consist of amateur snapshots. We have never seen a collection of this caliber or quality.

Passarelli, Vincent J., Lieutenant, O-499373, one each. Album, leather covered, 80 contact prints, one each. Album, leather boards, 36 contact prints, one each. Print, contact, Schnapps keg in use, one each. Keg, Schnapps, hand-carved, one each.

All in all, this is a most charming collection of memorabilia documenting for posterity the details of life in an American-run camp for German POWs.

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