Hitler’s watch sells for .1 million at controversial auction

Hitler’s watch sells for $1.1 million at controversial auction

A wristwatch believed to have belonged to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler has been sold at auction in the United States for $1.1 million, despite pleas from Jewish leaders not to be sold.

Acquired from an anonymous buyer, the piece is engraved with the initials AH and a swastika and eagle symbolizing Nazi Germany.

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American auction house Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland, which has offered Nazi memorabilia in the past, defended the sale, saying its aim was to preserve history.

Hitler ruled Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945 and orchestrated the systematic murder of up to 11 million people 6 million of whom were killed because they were Jews.

According to the auction house, the watch was given to the dictator on his birthday in 1933, the year he was appointed German chancellor amid a turbulent political crisis.

Historians believe the accessory was confiscated from a French soldier on May 4, 1945, when his unit became the first Allied force to reach Hitler’s retirement home at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian mountains. The watch was later resold and has been in the same family for generations.

On the same batch are toilet paper from the Wehrmacht (armed forces of Nazi Germany), cutlery and champagne glasses from Nazi leaders, and items belonging to Hitler’s partner, Eva Braun, including a dress and a swastikadecorated collar for her dog. The auctions took place over two days, this Thursday and Friday (28 and 29 July).

Jewish leaders condemn the auction

Before the auction, the Brusselsbased European Jewish Association (EJA) had asked the American auction house in an open letter signed by 34 Jewish leaders to stop selling the Nazi objects.

“This auction, whether unknowingly or not, does two things: First, to help those who idealize what the Nazi Party stood for. Second, to offer buyers the opportunity to delight a guest or loved one with an item belonging to a genocide and his supporters,” EJA President Rabbi Menachem Margolin wrote in the letter.

He also said that “selling these items is a dislike”. “The vast majority of the lots on display have little or no historical value. In fact, one can only question the motivation of those who buy them.”

“While it is obvious that the lessons of history must be learned and legitimate Nazi artifacts belong in museums or colleges the items you are selling clearly do not,” the rabbi added, heading to the auction house.

Mindy Greenstein, senior vice president of Alexander Historical Auctions, told DW the organization’s goal is to preserve history and that most of its collectors keep items they acquire in private collections or donate them to Holocaust museums around the world.

“If history is destroyed, there is no evidence that it happened,” she said. “Whether a story is good or bad, it must be preserved.”

Greenstein went on to explain that the auction house sells all sorts of historical artifacts, but that WWII remains a popular subject due to the ongoing and significant public interest.

During the Holocaust, she lost most of her Jewish family in Kyiv, Ukraine. Her husband Bill Panagopulos owns the auction house and his father’s Greek hometown was destroyed during the war.