WWII vet who found Hitler’s top hat dies at 88

In this Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2002 photo, World War II veteran Richard Marowitz, of Albany, N.Y., takes a picture of an exhibit on opening day of the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Marowitz, who found Adolf Hitler’s top hat, died Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. He was 88. (AP Photo/The Albany Times Union, Cindy Schultz)

Army veteran Richard Marowitz would show students a stomped on hat at his oral presentations about WWII history. As he recalled his experiences, he would explain to them how he found the top hat in Adolf Hitler’s apartment. Angered by Hitler’s cowardly actions, he had crushed the hat under his boot and brought it home to the U.S. at the end of the war.

ABC News reported that the 88-year-old veteran died last week after battling with cancer and dementia. He was receiving care at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Albany, NY.

His son, Larry, recalls how his father would tell the story of finding the hat in a closet in Hitler’s Munich apartment. At the time, Marowitz was upset about the horrible sights he had seen at the concentration camps. Only 19-years-old, he threw it on the floor and stomped on the black silk hat with the initials A.H. on the lining.

In 2001, Marowitz told the press, “I swear to this day I could see his face in it.”

According to MSN News, Marowitz was born in Middletown, New York, and raised in Brooklyn. He was drafted into the Army and served as a reconnaissance scout. In April 29, 1945, he and his unit were ordered to Dachau to prepare for other U.S. troops headed there. Being one of the first units to arrive, they found bodies stacked inside train cars and others who were near death.

“As we got closer to Dachau, we got this awful smell,” Marowitz said. “The prisoners were just walking skeletons, and they just dropped where they were and died.”

On April 30, 1945 it was announced that Hitler had killed himself in Berlin. “When he heard some skinny Jewish kid stomped all over his favorite hat, he committed suicide,” Marowitz kidded in 2001.

Even with all the horrors of genocide he witnessed and the combat conditions he had to endure, the showman-turned-clothing manufacturer always tried to add some humor into his stories, his son said. “He loved people, he loved to joke around,” said Larry.

In addition to his son, Marowitz is survived by his wife of 65 years, Ruth, and their daughters, Linda and Roberta. It is his wish that the family donates the hat to a museum.

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