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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Notes sold for $19,550. Written on the back of four postcards, to Hearst’s close friend and long-time secretary, Joseph Willicombe. Photo courtesy of Pacific Book Auction
“Hitler certainly is an extraordinary man. We estimate him too lightly in America. He has enormous enthusiasm, a marvelous faculty for dramatic oratory, and great organizing ability. Of course all those qualities can be misdirected,” William Randolph Hearst said in a series of postcards.

The media mogul wrote the notes in September 1934 after a visit in Germany with the Fuhrer. Hearst was in the country to soak in the carbonic-acid springs of Bad Nauheim, water popular for the treatment of heart, circulatory disorders and rheumatic diseases.

Details of the meeting between the two men are well documented in Hearst’s biographies. It turns out Hearst let it be known he wanted to meet the dictator. When four storm troopers arrived at Bad Nauheim, Hearst accompanied them by air to Berlin.

Hearst supposedly viewed Hitler as the man who was going to bring a generation of peace to Europe. He appealed to Hitler in a private meeting.

“You can be a world leader, you can secure a century of peace, but in order to be a world leader you must stop the persecution of the German Jews,” Hearst said.

“All discrimination is disappearing and will soon entirely disappear. That is the policy of my government, and you will soon see ample evidence of it,” Hitler replied.

Hearst believed Hitler. He couldn’t see the danger. From 1934 until 1938, he continued to defend the dictator.

He instructed his newspaper editors to go easy on the Nazis. This along with his extravagance for collecting art objects, plus his opulent castle-building project, led to the loss of reader’s faith along with the faith of his bankers.

After Kristallnacht in 1938, (the critical turning point in German policy regarding the Jews, thought to be the beginning of the Holocaust) Hearst woke up.

In the end, Hearst turned the business around and saved his publishing empire, which today is richer than ever.

At his peak, Hearst owned 28 major newspapers, 18 magazines, along with radio stations and movie companies.

Hearst was a man who wanted to be President. A man who believed he could do a better job than anyone else. A man who used his newspapers, newsreels and radio stations to bully people.

Nothing entices historians and collectors more than stumbling upon personal letters that provide intimate glimpses into the thoughts, feelings and responses of famous people at critical points in history.

The notes described sold for $19,550 on March 25 at Pacific Book Auction in San Francisco. They were written on the back of four postcards, to his close friend and long-time secretary, Joseph Willicombe.

From a collecting standpoint, it doesn’t get any better. Willicombe was one of Hearst’s most intimate correspondents. Its unlikely Hearst spoke to anyone more candidly.

The postcards came from the collection of John F. Dunlap. Dunlap claimed to be the largest private collector of Hearst artifacts outside the Hearst family.

Here are some current values for other Hearst items sold from the Dunlap collection.

William Randolph Hearst

Pastel drawing; William Randolph Hearst; by Leon Gordon; one of a series done at Hearst’s Santa Monica beach house; 30 1/4 inches by 24 1/2 inches; $402.

Photographs; 2; taken by Erich Salomon; depicts full dining table at San Simeon; Hearst and Marion Davies entertaining guests; 5 inches by 7 inches each; $3,737.

Lampshade; as found in San Simeon; used in Gothic library; constructed from vellum leaves; six panels; 14 inches tall; $6,325.

Passport; William Randolph Hearst; signed in three places; with address and photo; 6 1/4 inches by 3 1/2 inches; $9,200.

Architectural drawing; pencil and color chalk; Bridge House, Wyntoon; circa 1937; 30 inches by 21 inches; $25,875.

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