Baruch Tenembaum
A Jewish "Gaucho" on the road of fraternity



- The Swiss People, the Holocaust and the Swiss Press.

The world admires the great heroes who rescued Jews during the Holocaust such as the German Oskar Schindler, the Japanese Chiune Sugihara, the Swede Raoul Wallenberg and the Swiss Carl Lutz among others.

How, at times Jews wished that an entire country would get involved in helping the Jews. Not only as individuals, but all, or at least virtually all people of every walk of life. If we give rein to our wildest dreams we could imagine such absolutely absurd scenarios as follows:

Somebody brings Rabbi Haim Weissmandl's reports to a neutral country, which then takes it so seriously that every newspaper, from the largest urban to the smallest village paper, blast, in searing headlines that attack Auschwitz, the Nazis and Hungarian complicity in the deportation of 12,000 daily to the crematoria, carrying as:

Let your imagination run even more wildly. Have every pastors of virtually every church, from the largest urban to the village houses of worship participate in carrying out the same condemnatory message in sermon after sermon, week after week.

If that weren't enough, dream on, and imagine such a fictitious country whose entire population is by now so enervated and angry that they take to the streets in massive protests (remember, you are imagining things that could only have happened after the protests of the sixties) in which thousands of women, labor and university students demonstrate in the streets of various cities, to attack their own government for its indifference to the fate of the Jews (in far-away Hungary), where simultaneously -in this country that Jews could only imagined to have existed- the same theologians who inspired the church campaign now light a fire under its highest government officials, demanding that they start moving to rescue what was still possible to rescue.

Then happily conclude your dreams with a scenario that finds that mythical country's government capitulating to its citizen's humanitarian demands, finally gets into the act of rescue and then does a splendid job of rescuing tens of thousands of Jews.

If your imagination seems to have gone too wild for even you then stop imagining and discover to your delight that all this and much more is no figment of anyone's imagination but the truth. Yes, it really happened. Not in the United States or Great Britain or the U.S.S.R, but in staid, little Switzerland, which Jews have bashed for the past few years.

This seeming fiction is solid history fully documented in the book 'The Man who stopped the trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello. El Salvador and Switzerland's finest Hour' by David Kranzler (Syracuse University Press).

All the Jews who survived the war owe their lives to the few heroes and especially the entire Swiss people that deserves a medal from the Jews rather than condemnation.

The imagined headlines did really appear, in over 400 news articles in 120 Swiss newspapers: 'The True Face of the Hungarian Regime'; 'This Death Camp of Auschwitz!'; 'A Great Jewish Tragedy!'; 'A Journal of Terror!'; 'The Extermination of European Jews, Europe will Pay for this Crime'; 'A Storm of Indignation has arisen in the Heart of Europe!'; 'For the Sake of Humanity!'; 'Mass Murder of the Innocent People!'; 'The Earth has not yet seen such things!'; 'Factories to Burn Human Beings!'

Incidentally, the biggest villain was not a Swiss (such as Dr Rothmund, responsible for sending back Jews across the border) but the American, Roswell McClelland, sent by the War Refugee Board to facilitate rescue. According to Kranzler, rather than help, he did nothing but obstruct most rescue efforts.