Rabbis call on Maryland Auction House to cancel sale of Nazi memorabilia

Alexander Historical Auctions will be auctioning off valuable items owned by Nazi officials and used for the persecution of Jews during World War II, including a gold watch that belonged to Hitler.

 A collection of Nazi memorabilia  (photo credit: RAWPIXEL)
A collection of Nazi memorabilia
(photo credit: RAWPIXEL)

A golden eagle from Hitler’s bedroom. Nazi toilet paper. A concentration camp “crusher” visor cap. These are only some of the items that will be available for sale on July 28 and 29 at Alexander Historical Auctions, a prominent Maryland-based auction house.

European community leaders have urged the auction house to cancel the event. In a letter signed by Rabbi Menachem Margolin — chairman and founder of the European Jewish Association — signatures argued that the “sale of these items is an abhorrence,” and stated that “every Jewish family living today had relatives murdered or who were interned simply for being Jewish.”

Co-signers include Binyomin Jacobs, Chief Rabbi of the Netherlands, Rev. Cornelis Kant, Executive Director of Christians for Israel International, and Andrew Cohen, President of the Federation of Synagogues in the United Kingdom.

Alexander Historical Auctions — a leading auctioneer of fine historic autographs, documents, militia, and relics — is noted for its sales of high-value, high-profile pieces, including Frank Sinatra’s performance stool and the Rolex wristwatch gifted to President John. F Kennedy by Marilyn Monroe.

Their newest high-profile lot will feature valuable items owned by Nazi officials and used for the persecution of Jews during World War II. Among them is an engraved gold watch presented to Adolf Hitler as a sign of gratefulness from Nazi party members — currently valued at 2 million dollars.

A man wearing a Swastika [Illustrative] (credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)
A man wearing a Swastika [Illustrative] (credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)

“That they [items] 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 is overridden for financial gain,” argues Margolin.

In the letter, leaders assert that the auction is doing one of two things: “giving succor to those who idealize what the Nazi party stood for” and “offering buyers the chance to titillate a guest or loved one with an item belonging to a genocidal murderer and his supporters.”

While Maryland is the fourth state with the highest Jewish population in the United States — containing almost 4% of Jews in the country — the state experienced a 17% increase in antisemitic crimes in 2021.

In recent years, Neo-Nazism has become increasingly prevalent in the United States. President Trump’s campaign rhetoric regarding immigration “directly echoes Nazi propaganda and other precursors to genocidal violence,” according to the Center for American Progress. Simultaneously, a report by the Anti-Defamation League signaled an all-time high for antisemitic incidents last year.

“Indeed, one can only question the motivation of those buying them [the items],” argues Margolin. “Millions died to preserve the values and freedom that we take for granted today, including almost half a million Americans. Our continent is littered with memorial mass graves and the sites of death camps.”

Among a lot of the 1,600 items being auctioned is an original script from Orson Welles’ famous “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast, Alfred Hitchcock’s signed copy of his script for “Strangers On a Train,” and a rare letter and envelope signed by Mao Zedong.

However, some items stand out more than others. The notorious bronze desk set and blotter used by Adolf Hitler during the signing of the Munich Pact is at a current bid of 150,000 dollars.

The Munich Pact, which would grant Germany control over Czechoslovakia as long as Hitler promised to go no further, was signed by Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany, and would later embolden Hitler to invade Poland in what would mark the beginning of War World II.

“There is little to no intrinsic historical value to the vast bulk of the lots on display,” argued Margolin. “We urge you to do the right thing. Cancel the auction.”