A Swiss-Lebanese born businessman who bought up Adolf Hitler paraphernalia at an auction in order to keep the items out of neo-Nazi hands visited Israel this week.
Abdalla Chatila was welcomed to Israel this week where he visited Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and met with President Reuven Rivlin as well.
“Your donation is of great importance at this time, when people are trying to deny historical truth. These artifacts, which you are generously donating to Yad Vashem, will help convey the legacy of the Holocaust to the next generation who will not meet survivors. 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.” —Israeli President Reuven Rivlin
Chatila, who is one of Switzerland’s 300 wealthiest people, spent 600,000 euros at an auction in Germany in order to buy the items associated with infamous Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“I felt I had no choice but to actually try to help the cause,” Chatila said. “Hitler is the personification of evil. Evil for everyone. Not evil for the Jews. Not evil for the Christians. Evil for humanity.”
He purchased include a hat that may have belonged to Hitler and a silver-plated edition of “Mein Kampf” in addition to other objects. The artifacts will be donated to the Yad Vashem.
Chatila said he decided to buy the items after he heard about a European rabbi’s fight to keep the items from being auctioned. He planned initially to destroy them but then decided to donate them to an Israeli charity to decide what to do with them.
“I feel a shiver when I understand how important this is for the Jewish people, but I think there is a wider message for the whole world, that ‘never again’ is not a meaningless slogan,” Chatila said. “Through acts such as this, we can ensure that these things never happen again.”
Chatila’s family, who is Christian, fled Lebanon when he was 2.
While Chatila received some death threats and calling him a traitor regarding his purchases from his native country, he also received thousands of messages from Jews thanking him — and some Lebanese.
“I got four or five messages from Lebanese friends who told me they were proud that a Lebanese did something like this,” he said.
President Rivlin with Lebanese-born Swiss businessman Abdallah Chatila (Photo Credit: GPO/Mark Neiman)