Top German dealer Detlev Niemann reportedly approached Mr Petersen privately to see if he would be interested in the formal award documents for the Knight's Cross and the Oakleaves presented to the Hermann Göring divisional commander, Generalmajor Paul Conrath in 1941 and 1943. Mr Petersen purchased the Conrath documents from Mr Niemann for a substantial sum, said to be in the region of $80,000.00.
Mr Weitze said that the Conrath Oakleaves document was a fake and alleged that Mr Petersen had been the victim of a carefully planned ‘sting’ conceived and executed by Mr Niemann and Kai Winkler, another top German dealer. Mr Petersen was understandably sceptical because the three German dealers in question are bitter rivals. Furthermore, the Conrath document was perfect in every respect. Or so Mr Petersen thought. But according to his informant, the faker had incorporated a secret mark into his work in the form of a diamond-shaped full stop, known to a handful of accomplices but invisible to the untutored eye.
However, the story has been in circulation since the beginning of 2003. In January 2003, I put the story to Sebastian Bianchi, webmaster of the Wehrmacht-Awards Dot Com website, which promotes Detlev Niemann to its large membership as a trustworthy and reliable dealer. As Mr Bianchi wrote on on April 29th 2002: "Detlev Niemann has been a friend of this site and this forum since its inception. He not only sponsors the site in an official capacity but also provides support in ways that are above and beyond this commitment. You know from your purchase success rate that he hardly needs the advertisement, yet he supports the site and the hobby in ways that other dealers and auction houses would never dream of. If I sound like a cheerleading band it is because I personally hold deep respect for the man."
George Petersen may have given Detlev Niemann "the benefit of the doubt" concerning any intention on the latter's part to swindle Mr Petersen but sources close to Mr Petersen said that the Virginia dealer still held Mr Niemann responsible as far as remuneration and compensation were concerned and referring to "working with" Mr Niemann to settle the whole thing in order to avoid the exposure of "much dirty laundry", as the following page from his long fax on the subject shows.
Quite what Mr Petersen meant by "much dirty laundry" can only be guessed at but given some of the revelations in this blog and others, the guesswork does not present much of a problem. Mr Petersen was said not just to have demanded the refund of the original purchase price, which the above fax indicates was high, but a sum equivalent to the value of the documents in 2002, had they been genuine. The fact that Detlev Niemann's business went into a long, painful decline in terms of quality and value of stock and subsequently closed down seems to confirm the sources' information.