A Maryland auction house has sold a wristwatch that once belonged to Adolf Hitler for $1.1 million.
Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City had estimated the value between $2 and $4 million, describing the watch as a “World War II relic of historic proportions.”
News outlets report that Jewish leaders and others objected to the sale this week, saying it had little to no historical value. Thirty-four Jewish leaders wrote an open letter slamming the auctioning of items “belonging to a genocidal murderer and his supporters.”
Rav Menachem Margolin, the chairman of the European Jewish Association said: “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.”
The auction house’s president, Bill Panagopulos, defended the sale, telling The Washington Post that the buyer is a European Jew. He said that he and his family received death threats over the issue.
“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,” Panagopulos stated. “To destroy or in any way impede the display or protection of this material is a crime against history.” He added that the buyers “are NOT neo-Nazis, who are too poor and too stupid to appreciate any kind of historic material.”
The watch features the initials AH and a swastika. The auction house said a French soldier who was in the first unit to close in on Hitler in May 1945 at his Berchtesgaden retreat seized it as spoils of war.
This is not the first controversial sale for Alexander Historical Auctions. In 2011, much controversy arose over its sale of Josef Mengele’s diaries. According to the auction house, the buyer was an Orthodox Jewish collector.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)