A Christian Lebanese businessman last week bought items of Nazi memorabilia, which he later donated to an Israeli group.
Abdallah Chatila claims he bought the items – including Adolf Hitler’s collapsible top hat – to prevent them from being used for the purpose of “Neo-Nazi propaganda”.
Born in Beirut to a family of jewelers in 1974, the Swiss national is one of the country’s 300 wealthiest people.
Chatila told the Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche: “Far-right populism and anti-Semitism are spreading all over Europe and the world, I did not want these objects to fall into the wrong hands and be used by people with dishonest intentions.”
Hitler’s top hat was sold for €50,000 ($55,300) during the Munich-based auction held by Hermann Historica.
Other items included a silver-plated edition of Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf”, a hand-written letter and a black cocktail dress owned by his long-time partner Eva Braun, which sold for twice as much as expected; €4,600 ($5,067).
In total, Chatila spent almost $660,000 on ten items, including Hitler’s cigar box and typewriter.
The auction sparked uproar in Germany, particularly in the Jewish community which deems the sales immoral, and feared the items would be purchased by people who still celebrate the former Nazi leader’s political views.
Opposing the event, the European Jewish Association said: “It’s wrong to make money off these blood-soaked items, especially in Germany of all places.”
It called on “German authorities to force the auction houses to disclose the names of buyers,” which “could then be placed on a government list of people to watch.”
Chatila initially intended to destroy the items after reading objections from Jewish groups to the sale, reported the Associated Press.
But then decided to donate them to a Jewish fundraising organization and reached out to the Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal group.
The auction featured 147 items specifically related to Nazi Germany, among more than 800 German historical collectibles from 1919 onwards.