SYDNEY, Australia (Jul. 1)
The head of the militant Jewish Defense League in Australia has been accused of fraud for his attempts to sell the pistol Hitler purportedly used to kill himself.
Ze’ev Korwan, 51, faces a September court date on 139 counts of fraud.
Korwan, who was charged under his real name of Michael O’Hara, allegedly forged documents using ink produced in Germany in 1936 in an effort to authenticate Hitler’s gun as well as a second gun owned by Geli Raubal, Hitler’s niece and lover.
The documents — including letters from SS chief Heinrich Himmler and Emile Maurice, Hitler’s driver and bodyguard — then allegedly were inserted into archives in Germany and Russia.
Asking $2.5 million for each gun, Korwan put them on the world market through dealers in Melbourne, Australia, and Greensboro, N.C.
The sellers claimed the guns had been taken from Hitler’s valet by the Russians, kept in Stalin’s safe and then stored in KGB archives.
The sale allegedly was being made on behalf of an Austrian family that had paid $700,000 to get the guns out of Russia.
However, the Melbourne Sunday Age newspaper and the German publication Der Spiegel uncovered the alleged fraud after they combined forces to investigate the authenticity of the guns.
Korwan has been described in the media as a private investigator, British soccer player and swimming coach.
He told an Australian newspaper that "through the Hitler guns, the JDL identified several major illegal arms operators supplying so-called legitimate Arab royals, who then passed the weapons on to terrorist cells."
In his capacity as the Australian representative of the JDL, Korwan has been visiting synagogues and attempting to raise funds for the group.
But Jewish officials in Melbourne and Queensland’s Gold Coast have barred him from entering synagogues, and Jewish communities throughout Australia have been placed on alert.
"We do not believe Mr. Korwan is Jewish, and I have advised the community to have nothing to do with him," said David Paratz, the leader of the Queensland Jewish Community.
"We are aware that he has tried to elicit funds in Melbourne, and I believe he has been successful in some cases," added Graham Leonard, president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria. "We can only warn people to be careful."
Korwan told JTA: "We told them they had no right to stop us. I wanted to speak with Hashem in his house," referring to God.