An entrepreneur purchased Nazi memorabilia off an auction, saying he wants them to be displayed at a Holocaust museum, instead of being used by neo-Nazis.
Abdullah Chatila, a Swiss investor and philanthropist of Lebanese origin, has bought several of the Nazi leader’s personal belongings at an auction in Munich, Germany last week. He then donated all the items to Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal, an Israeli state-run fundraising organization, with hopes that they will be displayed at a Holocaust museum in Israel.
“It is extremely important to me that items from this painful historical era do not land in the wrong hands,” Chatila told Deutsche Welle.
In these days, where tendencies of nationalism and anti-Semitism are growing in Europe, I would like to set an example with the means I have.
The businessman spent around 600,000 Swiss francs ($601,400) to buy ten lots. These included a collapsible top hat, which was supposedly worn by Adolf Hitler, his silver cigar box and typewriter, as well as a ‘deluxe’ copy of Mein Kampf, owned by the Luftwaffe commander, Hermann Goering.
Chatila told Le Matin Dimanche that his stance is “completely apolitical and neutral,” and that he simply does not want the Nazi memorabilia to be used for the purpose of neo-Nazi propaganda. He also told the media wished to buy more items, but failed to secure all of the lots.
Auctions and other attempts to sell Third Reich-related items have repeatedly caused controversies, sparked by fears that they may be acquired by far-right groups. Complaints were also raised about the sellers seeking to reap profit from the Nazi-era items. Chatila’s approach, however, was praised by Jewish groups.
The head of the European Jewish Association, Rabbi Menachem Margolin called the philanthropist’s actions “a real act of kindness, of generosity and solidarity.”
Johanne Gurfinkiel, Secretary General of the Intercommunity Coordination against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (CICAD) also thanked Chatila. The businessman “deserves our respect for his determined intervention,” he said.
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