Adolf Hitler’s personalized watch — complete with its infamous owner’s initials “AH” and an engraved swastika — just sold for $1.1 million amid widespread backlash.
Alexander Historical Auctions in Chesapeake City, Md. — which also peddled the German dictator’s globe-shaped bar in 2020 — had estimated the value of the gold Andrea Huber timepiece at between $2 million and $4 million, describing it as a “World War II relic of historic proportions.”
But Jewish leaders and others condemned last week’s auction of the wristwatch, saying the timepiece had little to no historical value.
The auction house’s president, Bill Panagopulos, said he had been getting death threats over the sale of the watch.
The buyer, who chose to remain anonymous, is a European Jew, Panagopulos said.
The timepiece was likely gifted to Hitler on April 20, 1933, to mark his 44th birthday, which coincided with him being named an honorary citizen of Bavaria.
The watch, which was commissioned by the Nazi Party and assembled in Munich, features three dates: Hitler’s birthday, the day he became chancellor of Germany and when the Nazi Party won the national election in March 1933.
According to the auction house, a French soldier, Sgt. Robert Mignot, who was in the first unit to close in on Hitler in May 1945 at his Berchtesgaden mountain retreat, seized the watch as a spoil of war.
Mignot eventually resold the watch to his cousin, who then passed it down to his descendants.
In an open letter signed by 34 Jewish leaders, last week’s sale of the timepiece was slammed as “abhorrent.
“This auction, whether unwittingly or not, is doing two things: one, giving succor to those who idealize what the Nazi party stood for. Two: Offering buyers the chance to titillate a guest or loved one with an item belonging to a genocidal murderer and his supporters,” wrote Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA).
The auction house responded to critics by arguing that the sale was aimed at preserving a piece of history.
“Whether good or bad history, it must be preserved,” said Alexander Historical Auctions senior vice President Mindy Greenstein, according to Deutsche Welle. “If you destroy history, there is no proof that it happened.”