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Fuhrer’s wooden toilet seat: why collectors from all over the world hunt for Hitler’s things

Hitler's gold wristwatch by Huber - a trophy of the French soldier Robert Mignot

Hitler’s gold wristwatch by Huber – a trophy of the French soldier Robert Mignot

A photo: Video frame

On May 4, 1945, about 30 French soldiers from the Marche du Chad regiment of the 2nd Armored Division stormed the Berghof, Adolf Hitler’s residence in the Bavarian Alps. A week before, these parts had been blown to smithereens by British and American bombers, who had spared no thousands of bombs for these places. The Fuhrer left his favorite haven back in mid-January 45th, believing that it would be safer in Berlin.

The French entered the dilapidated house, ahead of the 4th Infantry Division of the US Army by a few hours. There were no longer guards and soldiers on the territory of the residence – all the buildings were at the complete disposal of the French. Their freedom of action was limited solely by the size of their backpacks.

Sergeant Robert Mignot liked a Huber gold wristwatch, adorned with the image of a German imperial eagle and a swastika, found in one of the rooms. Did the French military man guess whose watch became his trophy? Probably. The affiliation was obvious: the initials “AN” – Adolf Hitler – on the back cover.

Returning to France, Mignot resold Hitler’s watch to his cousin, who kept it to this day.

“TO THE CHANCELER WITH LOVE”

– Exceptional condition, – the watchmaker, who examined the mechanism of the watch before putting it up for auction, passed the verdict. – Only cleaning of dried oil is required, but this is nothing.

The expert did not find other shortcomings. Only the organizers of the Alexander Historical Auctions lamented that the leather strap was worn out over time, but here the freedom of choice for the future owner is to replace it or leave it intact.

Before, the Fuhrer’s wristwatch had not yet become the property of auctions. Many things were put up for auction that had to do with Hitler himself and his entourage: correspondence, silverware, his paintings, wardrobe items, personal items, and even a gold bar in the shape of a globe.

And here is a unique historical item – a gift presented to Hitler in 1933 by ardent comrades-in-arms. Experts wondered what could have been the reason for such a gift. Three versions were put forward: the 44th birthday of the Fuhrer, victory in the election of the Chancellor of Germany, or receiving the title of honorary citizen of Bavaria.

A CHANCE TO TICKE YOUR NERVES

The auctions were held on July 28-29 in the US city of Chesapeake City, Maryland. The organizers predicted that the watch would sell for 2-4 million dollars, but the final price tag was lower – 1.1 million dollars. The name of the buyer is kept secret, but Alexander Historical Auctions President Bill Panagopoulos mentioned that it was a Jew living in Europe.

Shortly before the start of the auction, a scandal erupted. Thirty-four Jewish community leaders criticized the upcoming bidding as “disgusting” and the organizers as people who neglected the “memory, suffering and pain of others” for financial gain.

– This auction, unwittingly or not, does two things: firstly, it helps those who idealize what the Nazi Party stood for. Secondly, they give buyers the opportunity to tickle the nerves of guests and a close object belonging to a genocidal killer, said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association.

The president of the auction said he respects the views of the Jewish community and assured that the buyers are not neo-Nazis, “who are too poor and stupid to appreciate any historical item.”

– Many people donate Nazi artifacts to museums and various institutions, as we did. Some need money or others just want to sell these items. So this is not our decision,” Bill Panagopoulos told reporters.

TERRIER COLLAR AND CHAMPAGNE GLASS

In addition to Huber watches at the auction, bidders could compete for Hitler’s candy bowl, which was sold for $ 2,750, Eva Braun’s Scottish terrier collar went under the hammer for $ 4,500, a beer tray for $ 750, the Fuhrer’s personal stationery – $ 650, a glass of champagne cost the buyer $900.

In 2015, 14 watercolors, allegedly painted by the young Hitler between 1904 and 1922, sold for $440,000. Among the works – Austrian landscapes, a portrait of a naked woman, street sketches of Vienna and Prague. The year before, another Fuhrer painting was sold for $161,000.

At one of the auctions, Hitler’s top hat was sold for 50 thousand euros, but Eva Braun’s dresses are less popular and are priced cheaper. The most paradoxical lot associated with the Fuhrer is a wooden toilet seat from the Berghof. A year ago, it was purchased for almost 19 thousand dollars. Such a trophy in 1945 was won by an American military man, who was one of the first in the Bavarian residence.

EXPERT COMMENTARY

“This is an occasion to recall the crimes of Nazism”

Konstantin Zalessky, historian of the Third Reich:

– Such artifacts will continue to appear, as they were taken out of Germany as trophies in large numbers. Today, the largest collections of things from the Third Reich are in Britain and the United States. This happened due to the fact that things were taken out of Germany by private individuals – British and American soldiers and officers. 80 years after the Second World War, the rest of them are dying, and the heirs are trying to make money from the loot, because they do not care, it is of no value to them. This is how things appear at auctions.

A thing that once belonged to Hitler or Himmler provokes not only a sharp reaction from people all over the world, but also becomes an occasion to remember the crimes of Nazism. After all, the more time passes from that moment, the more events are forgotten, and sometimes they are forgotten on purpose. Therefore, let such auctions cause reaction and criticism. For most, this is a useful opportunity to remember and learn about Nazi atrocities. This is akin to the trials that are now being carried out over old Nazis.

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