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In controversial sale, Hitler's watch fetches R18.1 million at auction house

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Jul 31, 2022

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A watch that belonged to Adolf Hitler was sold this week at a Maryland auction house for $1.1 million - well below the $2 million to $4 million price range the auctioneers had projected, and despite the objections of the Jewish community.

The sale of the Huber watch was listed as being completed Thursday at Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md. The auction house says the watch was probably given to the Nazi leader on his birthday in 1933, then seized by a French soldier in 1945 from Hitler's vacation home in the Bavarian Alps. Alexander Historical Auctions has stressed its authenticity, pointing to appraisals from watch experts and historians.

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The watch was auctioned as part of a catalogue including a blue dress that belonged to Hitler's wife, Eva Braun; signed pictures and correspondence of Nazi officials; and other items belonging to the Nazi leader. The auctions were criticized Thursday in an open letter signed by 34 Jewish leaders, who accused the auction house of "abhorrent" transactions that were overriding the "memory, suffering and pain of others" for financial gain.

In a phone interview, Alexander Historical Auctions' president, Bill Panagopulos, said he appreciates the Jewish leaders' views, though he found them frustrating. He said the buyer - whose identity Panagopulos declined to reveal - is a European Jew.

"Many people donate [Nazi artifacts] to museums and institutions, as we have done," he said in a separate emailed statement. "Others need the money, or simply choose to sell. That is not our decision." The sale has led to death threats sent to him and his family, Panagopulos said.

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The Maryland auction house has sold other Nazi memorabilia in the past, including a Hitler Youth dagger that fetched $120 in 2016 and a Nazi flag that sold for $260 three years earlier.

However, Panagopulos says, most of his sales are unrelated to World War II. He's sold a photograph of George A. Custer, the Civil War general who fought for the Union but also killed Native Americans, for $460. A seal designed for the Confederate government, which supported slavery, went for $3,250.

Alexander Historical Auctions has also sold less controversial artifacts. These include an 1821 letter from Albert Gallatin, who served as the secretary of the Treasury under President Thomas Jefferson and was outspoken against slavery, as well as a pipe once owned by former president Ulysses S. Grant.

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The Washington Post

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