Businessman who tried to auction 11-year-old Holocaust victim’s letter will give it to Yad Vashem

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli businessman will turn over to Yad Vashem a letter written by an 11-year-old Polish girl killed in the Holocaust after its sale by auction was blocked by a Tel Aviv court.

Dudi Zilbershlag agreed to give the letter to the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem on the condition that family members of Rachel Mintz never seek ownership, The Times of Israel reported, citing an article in its sister Hebrew-language site, Zman Yisrael.

Zilbershlag, a member of the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum council, also demanded that the family apologize to Yad Vashem for suggesting that the institution has sold artifacts, though Zman reported that it has not found such public statements by the family.

The businessman said he bought the letter, and four others written by children before the outbreak of World War II, at the Jaffa Flea Market. He put them up for sale at Dynasty Auction House in Jerusalem. The Tel Aviv District Court last week halted the sale of all the letters.

Zilbershlag had offered to sell the letter to the family for $10,000, and said not being able to auction them would cause him “irreparable” financial harm, according to The Times of Israel. The starting bid for the letters was $400.

Rachel’s letter to children in prestate Israel described life in Poland in 1937 and talked about her desire to immigrate to Israel.

A family spokesperson told Zman that they were pleased Zilbershlag agreed to donate the letter to Yad Vashem and denied they had wanted to keep it for themselves.