Richard Marowitz was just a day removed from witnessing the horrors of Dachau when he found a top hat on a shelf in a closet in Adolf Hitler’s Munich apartment.
Still furious over the gruesome sights he had seen at the nearby Nazi concentration camp, the 19-year-old self-described “skinny Jewish kid” from New York threw the black silk hat on the floor, jumped off the chair he had used to reach the item and stomped Hitler’s formal headwear until it was flat. “I swear to this day I could see his face in it,” Marowitz told The Associated Press in 2001.
Marowitz, who brought the souvenir back to New York after World War II ended, died aged 88 at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Albany. His son said his father died Wednesday after battling cancer and dementia.
Marowitz, born in Middletown, New York, was playing trumpet in a swing band when he was drafted into the army. He served as a reconnaissance scout in the 42nd Infantry Division as it fought its way across Europe in 1945. On April 29, his unit was ordered to push ahead to Dachau.
In a 2003 interview he recalled how he and his comrades sped their Jeeps through German convoys and enemy positions.
They were among the first American soldiers to enter the concentration camp. The next day, the 19-year-old scout was among a group sent to search Hitler’s Munich apartment. While looking in a closet, Marowitz found a top hat with the initials “A.H.” on the lining. It was April 30, the day Hitler committed suicide.
Marowitz kept the hat and brought it home. Now, the family will donate the hat to a museum, his son said.