The gold watch is emblazoned with a swastika, a Nazi eagle and the initials ‘AH’, and was said to have been given to Hitler as a birthday present
A watch thought to have belonged to Adolf Hitler has sold at auction for nearly £1m, sparking outrage from the Jewish community.
The gold watch is emblazoned with a swastika, a Nazi eagle and the initials “AH”. According to the auction catalogue, it was given to the Nazi leader as a birthday present in 1933, which was the year he became Chancellor of Germany and began his steep rise to power.
In an open letter, 34 Jewish leaders blasted the sale as “abhorrent” and urged the auction house not to make the item available for purchase.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chair of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, said the auction “is giving succour to those who idealise what the Nazi party stood for”.
He said that it also offers buyers “the chance to titillate a guest or loved one with an item belonging to a genocidal murderer and his supporters”.
He added: “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.”
The auction house, Maryland-based Alexander Historical Auctions, said that it was seeking to preserve history by auctioning off the piece.
“If you destroy history, there is no proof that it happened.,” said Mindy Greenstein, senior vice president at Alexander Historical Auctions. “Whether good or bad history, it must be preserved.”
The watch is said to have been seized by a group of French soldiers when they stormed Hitler’s Berghof vacation home in the mountains of Bavaria. It was later resold and then handed down through the generations.
Others items available at the auction in included cutlery and champagne glasses belonging to senior Nazi figures, along with items owned by Hitler’s long-term partner, Eva Braun, including a collar for her pet dog.