Visitors get a close view of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, promulgated by the Third Reich as the beginning of persecution of Jews Photo: AP
Consisting of four pages, and signed by Adolf Hitler, the anti-Semitic documents were appropriated by US General George Patton at the end of the Second World War after being discovered in Bavaria.
Gen Patton disobeyed orders that Nazi documents were to be handed over to the government and spirited them out of Germany, later depositing them at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles, close to where he grew up.
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The library placed them in a bomb proof vault and they were a missing piece of evidence at the Nuremberg trials that followed the war.
Prosecutors had to use photocopies and the existence of the originals was only disclosed in 1999.
The library has now handed them over to the National Archives in Washington DC so they can be placed with the rest of the war crimes trial evidence. Archivists hope to put them on public show later this year.
Drawn up in 1935 the laws rescinded the citizenship of German Jews and barred them from marrying non-Jews. They also forbade Jews from having sexual relationships with non-Jews, and stopped them flying the German flag.
Under the laws people were classified as Jews if they had three or four Jewish grandparents, and those with one or two Jewish grandparents were described as “Mischling,” or of “mixed blood.”
Huntington Library President Steve Koblik said: “We were aware of the fact that Gen Patton, who had received the documents from his staff as a gift and deposited them at the Huntington, had not paid attention in his souvenir hunting to the orders of his commander in chief.
“Had Gen Patton not taken these documents, they would have been part of the collection the government was putting together in order to prepare for the Nuremberg trials.”