A watch belonging to Adolf Hitler was auctioned for 1.09 million euros. The auction house was criticized, and Jewish representatives called for the auction to be canceled.
A gold watch believed to have once belonged to Adolf Hitler fetched more than $1 million at a controversial auction in the United States. The object offered is a “Reverso”, i.e. a turning clock, as it has been manufactured since 1931. Because the thin glasses of wristwatches were still very sensitive at the time, you could simply turn the side with the dial and the glass cover over so that the back was visible and the valuable movement was protected.
The watch, engraved with the imperial eagle and swastika, fetched $1.1 million on Thursday, according to auction house Alexander Historical Auctions. That was well below the estimate of two to four million dollars.
According to the auction house, the gold watch was given to Hitler by members of the NSDAP in 1933. It was found on May 4, 1945 – four days after Hitler’s suicide in Berlin – by a French soldier in Hitler’s former Alpine residence in Berchtesgaden and is said to have been in the soldier’s family for decades.
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The auction of the objects had triggered sharp criticism in advance. The Jewish umbrella organization European Jewish Association (EJA) called for the auction to be canceled. “The sale of these items is despicable,” said EJC chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin in an open letter to the auction organizers.
Learn from abominations
Nazi legacies may belong in museums, but certainly not under the hammer, emphasized Margolin. The objects belonging to the “genocide” Hitler in no way contribute to learning from the atrocities of the Nazi era, he emphasized, referring to the estimated six million Jewish victims of the Nazi regime. The letter was signed by more than 30 Jewish representatives from Europe and Israel, including the German-Israeli Society in Berlin.
“Buyers are not neo-Nazis”
Bill Panagopulos, president of the auction house Alexander Historical Auctions, which has faced similar criticism for previous auctions – including those involving the personal diaries of notorious Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele – dismissed the criticism in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as “nonsense and sensationalism”. “What we sell is criminal evidence. It is tangible, real-world evidence that Hitler and the Nazis lived and persecuted and killed millions of people. Destroy this material or in any way interfere with the display or protection of this material , is a crime against history,” wrote Panagopulos. The buyers, he added, “are NOT neo-Nazis who are too poor and stupid to appreciate any kind of historical material.”
Other devotional items include a candy bowl belonging to the dictator, a terrier collar belonging to his partner Eva Braun, glasses, napkin rings, a deactivated rocket launcher, military condoms and Wehrmacht toilet paper.