A collection of seven paintings that once belonged to Adolf Hitler have been unearthed in a convent in the Czech Republic.
The long-lost Hitler collection was discovered by a Jiri Kuchar, a Czech historian, tucked away in the depository of the convent in the small town of Doskany, which lies north of Prague.
Among the works of art is a massive painting entitled Memories of Stalingrad. Depicting wounded German soldiers sheltering in a trench as battle rages around them, the work of art is believed to be one of Hitler's favourites despite the catastrophic defeat inflicted on his armies at Stalingrad by Soviet forces.
As the war neared its end Hitler apparently ordered the paintings, which he had either bought or seized, to be hidden in a monastery in southern Bohemia. But American forces found them and took them to a central collection point for artefacts looted by the Nazis during the war, but then they disappeared and it remains unclear how they ended up in the convent.
In a statement the convent said it had no idea of the dark origins of the paintings, but added it intends to keep them.
Historians say the historical value of the collection far exceeds its artistic value although at auction it could fetch £1.7 million.
The discovery may also not be the end of the story. Mr Kuchar explained that before it disappeared the collection in fact totalled 16 paintings, which means a further nine remain undiscovered but finding them could prove difficult owing to a desire to keep the past secret.
"I've got a feeling that many places will be reluctant to admit their favourite works of art have this unfortunate historical blemish," said the historian.