1936 Nazi rally in Berlin
1936 Nazi rally in Berlin Getty Images

German police recovered two bronze sculptures of horses which once stood outside Adolf Hitler's chancellery, as part of an investigation into the art black market.

Police said they found the multi-million dollar sculptures in a warehouse after staging coordinated raids in five states, targeting eight suspected members of a ring of illegal art dealers aged 64 to 79.

Among the artworks seized were horse sculptures and granite reliefs from artists Josef Thorak and Arno Breke specially commissioned by the Third Reich.

The twin Walking Horses by Thorak would have been visible from Hitler's chancellery office.

As the tide turned on the Nazi regime, the statues were taken to East Germany to save them from allied bombs, where they were seized by Soviet troops.

The giant chancellery building, which Hitler envisaged as the headquarters of a global Nazi empire, was badly damaged by bombs and destroyed by the Soviet Red Army when they seized the city.

The statues were eventually installed in a Red Army barracks in Eberswalde, in what was then the communist German Democratic Republic.

They were rediscovered by an art historian, who wrote an article about them in 1989 after which they vanished and are believed to have been sold off by the GDR government in its final weeks as it struggled to stay afloat financially. That is when they are believed to have entered the black market.

They were found by officers in Bad Duerkheim, in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

The statues will now become the property of the German state, or could be claimed by the descendants of Thorak, Germany's Bild reported.