Among the thousands of signatures collected by Abraham Schwadron, the German tyrant's appears on an award presented to a Nazi doctor
Abraham Schwadron (later Sharon) was a thinker, writer, scholar, and many other things, but above all he was a collector. Schwadron’s two great passions were portraits and signatures of famous Jews and, in fact, his life’s work was amassing the world’s largest collections of both. Schwadron managed to amass some 6,000 signatures and 3,000 portraits of notable Jewish figures, all of which he donated to the National Library in Jerusalem. The collections continue to be expanded some seven decades after Schwadron’s death.
On November 10, 1947, Schwadron received a gift from someone named Heinrich Frei, who at that time apparently worked at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and would later become a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The gift was an award presented in Vienna on January 20, 1943 to one Wilhelm Falta by Adolf Hitler, who also signed the document.
Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Falta was a physician, and a pioneer in the field of diabetes research, among the first to recognize that decreased sensitivity to insulin, or insulin resistance, separated one form of diabetes from another. He collaborated with researchers around the globe and authored important studies that are consulted by medical researchers until today. He was also a supporter of Nazism before Germany 1938 annexation of Austria, even allowing groups of Nazi students to use his home for their activities. Falta received the award in recognition of his service to the German people.
The award, known as a “Social Welfare Decoration”, was presented by Hitler beginning in 1939 to people in the public sector who “contributed” to the well-being of the German people. Other recipients included Reinhard Heydrich, a principle architect of the Holocaust, and Josef Mengele, remembered for his sadistic human experiments in Auschwitz.
The full text of the certificate:
In the name of the German people
I present this award to Professor Wilhelm Falta from the University of Vienna
The third class of the German Social Welfare Decoration
Berlin, 30 January 1943.
Shortly before this award was present to Falta, a Jewish Austrian doctor also named Wilhelm Falta was deported from his home and likely murdered at the hands of the Nazis.
Daniel Lipson, Nati Gabbay, Rachel Misrati, Matan Barzilai, Stefan Litt and Zack Rothbart contributed to this article.