Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met on Sunday with Abdallah Chatila, a Lebanese-born Swiss businessman who purchased Adolf Hitler’s hat and other Nazi memorabilia at a recent auction and donated them to Yad Vashem.
Chatila purchased the items, including Hitler’s top hat and a cocktail dress worn by his lover Eva Braun, two weeks ago.
“Your donation is of great importance at this time, when people are trying to deny historical truth. These artifacts, which you are generously making available to Yad Vashem, will help convey the legacy of the Holocaust to the next generation who will not meet survivors,” said Rivlin.
“What you did was seemingly so simple, but this act of grace shows the whole world how to fight the glorification of hatred and incitement against other people. It was a truly human act. I know you have been thanked many times, but it was important for me to say it loud and clear here at Beit Hanassi [the President’s Residence] in Jerusalem: We appreciate it and thank you for it very much.”
Keren Hayesod World Chairman Sam Grundwerg and Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev were also on hand to show their appreciation.
Chatila told Rivlin that when he heard the artifacts were for sale, his initial thought was to buy and destroy them.
“Then I thought I have no right to decide what to do with the items, and am so glad they are now at Yad Vashem. I feel a shiver when I understand how important this is for the Jewish people,” he said, “but I think there is a wider message for the whole world, that ‘never again’ is not a meaningless slogan. Through acts such as this, we can ensure that these things never happen again.”
Shalev echoed Rivlin’s gratitude and said, “What you did as a spontaneous act ensures that these artifacts do not end up in the wrong hands. You stopped that, and brought them to the place where history is told and where the next generation is educated. Thank you very much.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.