- A Maryland auction house has told Adolf Hitler's watch for $1.1 million (around R18.1 million).
- An open letter from 34 Jewish leaders said the auction, which included other Nazi memorabilia, was an "indictment to society."
- They said the auction overrides the "memory, suffering and pain ... for financial gain."
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A gold watch given to Adolf Hitler has sold for $1.1 million (around R18.1 million) at a Maryland auction house.
Details on the auction house website state that the watch also features two dates, 20 April 1889, Hitler's birthday, and the second date, 30 January 1933, being the day the genocidal dictator became Chancellor of Germany.
Jewish leaders wrote an open letter condemning Alexander Historical Auction House for the sale of the watch as the star lot in a large sale of Nazi memorabilia. It features a swastika, a Nazi eagle emblem (known as the reichstadler), and the initials AH.
According to the catalogue description, the gold Andreas Huber reversible wristwatch was a spoil of war taken from Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden in the mountains of Bavaria by a French soldier.
Alexander Historical Auctions' president, Bill Panagopulos, said the buyer — whose identity Panagopulos declined to reveal — is a European Jew, reported The Washington Post.
The watch's sale price was well below the $2 million to $4 million (around R33 million to R66 million) estimate floated before the auction.
Offering buyers the chance to titillate with an item belonging to a genocidal murderer
The letter from the European Jewish Association said the auction was an "indictment to society, one in which the memory, suffering, and pain of others is overridden for financial gain.''
The auction sold an extensive catalogue of Nazi memorabilia items, including a painting by Hitler, Hitler's "last message" to Germany, a golden reichstadler, and a bust of Hitler once owned by Joseph Goebbels.
Other items auctioned included Wehrmacht toilet paper sporting a swastika, cutlery, and champagne glasses belonging to senior Nazi figures.
The Jewish Association said, "This auction, whether unwittingly or not, is doing two things: one, giving succour to those who idealise 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."
"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. That they are sold to the highest bidder on the open market is an indictment to our society, one in which the memory, suffering, and pain of others are overridden for financial gain.''
Panagopulos told the Washington Post, "Many people donate [Nazi artefacts] to museums and institutions, as we have done. Others need the money or simply choose to sell. That is not our decision."
Panagopulos said that the auction has resulted in death threats sent to him and his family.