In September 1970, former US Army Lieutenant Benjamin Lieber, late of the 692nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, won a lawsuit against New York militaria dealer Mohawk Arms, securing the return of a collection of Hitler-related memorabilia said to have been stolen from Lieber by his chauffeur in 1968, who had apparently sold it to New York City militaria dealer Peter Hlinka, who had in turn sold it to Raymond Zyla of Mohawk Arms in Utica NY. Zyla and his lawyers claimed that Mr Lieber had no grounds for demanding its return as he "never obtained good and legal title" and the loot "properly [belonged] to the occupational military authority and/or the Bavarian Government". This defence had no legs under Louisiana State Law.
J. Robert Lynch Jr, the lawyer who represented Ben Lieber in Louisiana, had told the court: "In 1945 the plaintiff, then in the United States Army, was among the first soldiers to occupy Munich, Germany. There he and some companions entered Adolph Hitler’s apartment and removed various items of his personal belongings. The plaintiff brought his share home to Louisiana. It included Hitler’s uniform jacket and cap and some of his decorations and personal jewellery. The plaintiff’s possession of these articles was publicly known. Louisiana newspapers published stories and pictures about the plaintiff’s collection and he was the subject of a feature story in the Louisiana State University Alumni News of October, 1945. There is some indication that the articles were occasionally displayed to the public." Before returning the collection, Raymond Zyla and his brother Joseph called on Lieber's New York lawyer Charles Drake and offered what Raymond Zyla described in a 1985 deposition as "a large amount of cash". The offer was accepted and the collection remained in Mohawk Arms' possession.
|The same cap three decades later|