A watch purported to have belonged to Adolf Hitler sold for $1.1 million at a US auction house this week, among other items said to have belonged to the Nazi dictator and his wife, Eva Braun.
The Huber watch — adorned with a swastika, the German Imperial Eagle and the initials AH — was sold to an anonymous buyer by the Alexander Auction House in Chesapeake City, Maryland during the two-day sell-off held between July 28-29.
The auction house claimed the timepiece was presented to Hitler on his 44th birthday in 1933, then taken as loot by a French soldier in 1945 from the Nazi leader’s vacation retreat at Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps.
Bidders also fought for possession of an item listed as Hitler’s candy dish, which sold for $2,750; a dog collar for Eva Braun’s Scottish Terrier, which sold for $4,500; Hitler’s beer serving tray, which sold for $750; his personal stationery, which sold for $650; his champagne glass, which sold for $900, as well as several other objects used by him and his wife.
The European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based lobby group, condemned the sale in a letter. The items only give “succor to those who idealize what the Nazi party stood for” or offer “buyers the chance to titillate a guest or loved one with an item belonging to a genocidal murderer and his supporters,” wrote the group’s chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin.
“The sale of these items is an abhorrence. There is little to no intrinsic historical value to the vast bulk of the lots on display,” Margolin wrote to the auction house in a letter that was co-signed by 34 members and leaders of European Jewish communities.
Bill Panagopulos, the president of Alexander Historical Auctions, which has faced similar rebukes for previous sales — including one that featured the personal diaries of Josef Mengele, a notorious Nazi war criminal — dismissed the criticism as “nonsense and sensationalism” in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“What we sell is criminal evidence, no matter how insignificant. It is tangible, real in-your-face proof that Hitler and Nazis lived, and also persecuted and killed tens of millions of people. To destroy or in any way impede the display or protection of this material is a crime against history,” Panagopulos wrote. The buyers, he added, “are NOT neo-Nazis, who are too poor and too stupid to appreciate any kind of historic material.”
The European Jewish Association does not know whether the items on sale are authentic, a spokesperson for the group told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Other lots that went under the hammer in the past included a Walther PP pistol said to have belonged to notorious Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hess, which sold for $22,500, and a so-called “original watercolor painting” by Hitler.