Nazi flag from Buchenwald bequeathed to Israel, delivered to Yad Vashem
71 years ago, a Jewish-French partisan doctor helping the US forces entered Buchenwald and took down a Nazi flag there; 15 years after his death, his son has donated that flag to the State of Israel, along with other documents from the liberation; the state has transferred them to Yad Vashem.
The son of a Jewish partisan Holocaust survivor donated this week a Nazi German flag to the State of Israel that his father found in the Buchenwald concentration camp on the day of its liberation, April 11, 1945.
The flag, which was hidden by the father, a French doctor named Robert Jacques Lederer, for 71 years. His son found it recently, fifteen years after his father's death, and transferred it to Yad Vashem.
Lederer joined the American forces after liberation intending to check the medical conditions of the prisoners. At their arrival at Buchenwald, he found the flag and kept it in his house for his entire life.
His son decided to donate the flag to the State of Israel, so he contacted the Administrator General in the Ministry of Justice, who received the flag and transferred it to Yad Vashem. In addition, the son donated various documents belonging to his father from the time of the camp's liberation.
Miri Keidar, who is responsible for the estates left to the state in the Administrator General, said that the son, who asked to remain anonymous, first contacted the Israeli embassy in France. "He explained that it was important to him to donate the flag to the State of Israel, and he didn't ask for any financial consideration or set any conditions. He just asked that if the flag would be used, that his father's name would be remembered," she said.
The son said that he learned about his father having taken the flag 20 years ago: "My father joined the French resistance when the Germans invaded the country. He joined the American forces when they reached the country, and, as a doctor, he helped them at the liberation of concentration camps."
His father would recount that the flag had been hanging at the camp: "He just took it down and took it with him. The State of Israel is the moral owner of this flag, so it was important to me to give it to her," said the son.
Buchenwald was one of the largest concentration camps operated by the German Nazis, with 138 secondary camps. It operated from its creation in 1937 until US forces liberated its approximately 250,000 prisoners. According to estimates, some 65,000 persons were murdered in Buchenwald, including those who died in the death marches shortly before the liberation.
According to data from the Ministry of Justice, every year, millions of shekels are donated to Israel, which are handled by the Administrator General, and which are then distributed to foundations and government ministries in different fields, including education, health, and defense. Principally, these donations are bequests left to the State of Israel. According to the Administrator General's latest report, some 180 million shekels were donated in 2015, 60% of which came from France and 11% from Germany.
Deputy Administrator General Sigal Ya'akovi said, "The donation of the flag demonstrates the unbreakable link between world Jewry and the State of Israel. Many dozens of donations are received every year by the Administrator General from around the world, and the Administrator General is acting to fulfill the wishes of the testators to donate to Israeli society to preserve their memory."