Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah keeps, “treasures” and sometimes shows off a dagger given by Adolf Hitler himself to a visiting Saudi delegation in 1939.
This tidbit is contained in “The U.S.-Saudi Royal Rumble”, an article by Washington Institute expert Simon Henderson published on Sunday in Foreign Policy on the current tensions between the two countries.
“However, King Abdullah still treasures a dagger given as a gift from the Fuhrer himself, and occasionally shows it off to guests. Visiting U.S. officials are briefed in advance so they can display appropriate diplomatic sang-froid if Abdullah points out the memento,” Henderson writes.
The original report about Abdullah’s dagger comes from a 2004 book by Lebanese-American political science professor As’Ad AbhKhalil, “The Battle for Saudi Arabia.” Writing on the brief flirt between Nazi Germany and Saudi Arabia’s first monarch Ibn Saud, AbhKhalil cites a “private American source” who has visited the Saudi royal palace several times. He says that Abdullah “keeps in his displayed possessions a dagger given to him by Hitler.”
It’s not completely clear from the phrasing of the text whether the dagger was given to Abdullah himself – he was only 15 at the time - or to Ibn Saud; or, more likely, conveyed to Ibn Saudi during the well-documented (and possibly filmed) meeting on June 17, 1939 between Hitler and Ibn Saud’s emissary Khalid al-Hud al-Gargani that took place at the Nazi leader’s famous “Eagles Lair” retreat in Berchtesgaden in Bavaria.
According to minutes of the meeting kept by the German Foreign Ministry, Hitler had assured al-Hud that the Reich and the Arabs had common interests because “we are both fighting the Jews.”
In subsequent talks, Germany promised to supply Saudi Arabia with 8000 rifles, 8 million rounds of ammunition and anti-aircraft guns, some of which were to be diverted to the Palestinian Arabs fighting the Jews in Palestine. But the deal never went through, both because the Saudis couldn’t afford it (!) at the time, and because, despite their shared hatred of Jews with the Nazis, the Saudis found a better strategic partner in the United States.