"Himmler's watch was mine for just 300 cigarettes"

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THE hands of time are stuck at 5.40, the leather strap is long gone and the watch Dr Tom Renouf keeps tucked inside a small brown box lined with cream satin appears just an unremarkable, old, broken timepiece.

It hasn't worked since 1946. "I used to wear it," he says with a shrug of indifference. "Then I dropped it on a marble floor. Took it to a couple of local watchmakers for repair but they didn't have the spare parts. Shame. The Germans made very good watches."

In fact, so efficient was this one that it once adorned the wrist of one of the Nazi regime's most infamous and vilest figures. Brutal beyond belief, vicious and callous, Heinrich Himmler was the driving force behind the Nazi's loathsome Gestapo, the architect of the horrific concentration camps and the man upon whose ruthless orders millions of people perished.

And his Etanche German Army issue watch, barely an inch in diameter and with its golden numerals now slightly tarnished, had a particular and undeniably sinister significance. After all, Himmler is the man infamously credited with being so precise about his murderous task that he made certain the concentration camp trains loaded with their tragic cargo ran right on time . . .

"Some people don't like to touch it," says Tom, glancing upon the dial that once held Himmler's gaze. "I think it gives them the creeps. But to us soldiers at the time, well it was just a watch."...

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