Criticism Surrounds Sale of Hitler's Watch

An anonymous bidder paid $1.1M for it on Thursday
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2022 7:22 AM CDT
Criticism Surrounds Sale of Hitler's Watch
From left to right, Dr. Joseph Goebbels, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, Reichs Sports Leader Hans von Tschammer und Osten and General Field Marschall Werner von Blomberg observe the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany in August 1936.   (AP Photo, File)

It turns out there were two controversial auctions won by anonymous bidders on Thursday. The BBC reports that a watch thought to have belonged to Adolf Hitler has sold for $1.1 million, below its $2 million to $4 million estimate. Alexander Historical Auctions in Maryland described the gold Andreas Huber reversible wristwatch, which features a swastika and the initials AH, as having "unwavering direct provenance." It was found by a French soldier who was a member of the first Allied unit to enter Hitler's Bavarian mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden on May 4, 1945, just days after his death.

Upon gaining access to the home, Sergeant Robert Mignot and the other soldiers in his unit found a system of tunnels and bunkers under the house. "This is probably where this watch—and other valuables—were found and taken away by the French as war souvenirs," per the auction house. Mignot ultimately sold the watch to his cousin, who is the grandfather of the person who sold it Thursday. The auction house says the "watch and its history have been researched by some of the world's most experienced and respected watchmakers and military historians, all of whom have concluded that it is authentic and indeed belonged to Adolf Hitler." He is thought to have received it in 1933 as a birthday gift.

Among the other items that were auctioned: a bust of Hitler owned by Joseph Goebbels and given to one of his spies, a dress belonging to Eva Braun, and a watercolor painting of the Eagle's Nest thought to have been made by Hitler. The sale of such items was criticized Thursday in an open letter signed by 34 Jewish leaders. It reads in part, "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."

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Auction house president Bill Panagopulos told the Washington Post the buyer of the watch was a European Jew and that he was frustrated by the criticism around the sale, which he says had led to death threats against him and his family. In a statement, Panagopulos said, "Many people donate [Nazi artifacts] to museums and institutions ... others need the money, or simply choose to sell. That is not our decision." (More Adolf Hitler stories.)

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