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.”
Jewish leaders and others objected to the sale this week, saying it had little to no historical value. An open letter signed by 34 Jewish leaders described the sale as “abhorrent” and called on the Nazi items to be pulled from the auction.
The auction house’s president, Bill Panagopulos, defended the auction and said the buyer is a European Jew.
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.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, wrote in the open letter that the transaction gave “succour to those who idealise what the Nazi party stood for.”
“Whilst it is obvious that the lessons of history need to be learned – and legitimate Nazi artefacts do belong in museums or places of higher learning – the items that you are selling clearly do not,” he wrote.