Colonel José Arturo Castellanos was the Salvadoran Consul General in Geneva, Switzerland in 1942-45. He appointed George Mandel-Mantello, a Romanian Jewish refugee living in Geneva, as the First Secretary at his consulate. He authorized Mantello to issue thousands of ”citizen certificates” to Jewish refugees throughout Nazi occupied Europe. These certificates stated that the holder was a recognized citizen of El Salvador who was then protected from deportation. In 1944, Castellanos requested that Switzerland represent El Salvador’s interests in Nazi occupied Hungary. Soon, Mantello was issuing thousands of Salvadoran citizenship papers to Hungarian Jews through the office of Swiss Consul Charles Lutz.
The Official Ceremony honoring Colonel José Arturo Castellanos, who was recently declared Righteous Among the Nations, was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of El Salvador on Tuesday, July 27 2010. The IRWF was part of the team that worked on achieving this recognition.]]>
Karadja issued hundreds of Romanian visas to German Jews in Berlin during the period from 1942 to 1944.]]>
Friedrich Born came to Budapest, Hungary, in May 1944. During the period from May 1944 to January 1945, Born issued thousands of Red Cross letters of protection to Jews of Budapest. He is credited with retrieving thousands of Jews from deportation camps and death marches in and around Budapest. He provided an additional 4,000 Jews with employment papers, preventing their deportation. He put over 60 Jewish institutions under Red Cross protection and housed over 7,000 Jewish children and orphans. He worked closely with the other neutral diplomatic legations, and set up dozens of Red Cross protected houses. He is credited with rescuing between 11,000 and 15,000 Jews in Budapest.]]>
Aristides De Sousa Mendes was the Consul General in Bordeaux, France. He issued more than 30,000 life-saving Portuguese visas. Ten thousand were for Jews and 20,000 were for other refugees. Mendes saved the entire royal Habsburg family, including the Empress Zita. In addition, he saved the entire Belgian cabinet in exile. Mendes personally conducted hundreds of Jewish refugees across a border checkpoint on the Spanish frontier. All of his life saving activities were done against the orders and policies of his government. He was fired by his government and lost all of his property. He died in poverty in Lisbon in 1954. In November of 1995, Portugal restored his career and awarded him a special medal for saving lives.]]>
Consul Elting was one of the first diplomats in Europe to recognize the Auschwitz Report (also known as the Auschwitz Protocols) as a true document representing the murder of millions of Jews in Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps. Elting received the Auschwitz Protocols and, with an important endorsement, passed it along to Jewish community leaders in Switzerland and the US Secretary of State.]]>
Henryk Slawik was the Polish Chargé d’Affaires in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944. He issued thousands of documents certifying that Polish Jewish refugees in Budapest were Christians. One hundred of these were children, and were put in a Catholic orphanage. Slawik was caught and deported to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where he was murdered.]]>
In 1936, Jaeger was transferred to Budapest, where Switzerland had set up a legation that same year. He was head of the Swiss mission, and was Carl Lutz’s direct supervisor. Jaeger played an active role in opposing the deportation of Jews by the Nazi and Arrow Cross officials. In particular, he tried to persuade the Nazis from deporting Jews to Auschwitz and to respect the neutrality of the 76 Swiss protected houses. The activities of Minister Jaeger were instrumental in providing Lutz with the necessary conditions for the rescue of Jews in Budapest. Lutz stated that the Minister always allowed him a good deal of freedom of action, and had total confidence in him. Beginning early in the war, Jaeger sent regular reports to the Ministry in Bern regarding the fate of the Jews in Hungary.]]>
When the Germans occupied Hungary on 19 March 1944, persecution of the Jews grew more and more flagrant.
Thousands seeking Lutz’s protection besieged his offices every day. As an engaged Christian, Carl Lutz felt he had to protect these people. At that time he had already helped 10,000 Jewish children and young people to emigrate to Palestine. He cared for refugee Jews who had come to Hungary from many nations and for Hungarian Jews who were within British and Palestine interests.
When deportations to Auschwitz began on 15 May, Lutz decided to place the staff of the Jewish council for Palestine under his diplomatic protection and to rename it the ”Department of Emigration of the Swiss Legation”. A special relief organization had to be created for this stupendous task. With the aid of volunteers, Lutz increased his staff from 15 to 150.
Taking advantage of the fact that neither Hitler’s proconsul in Hungary, Edmund Veesenmayer, nor the Sztojay government had formally challenged the right of 8,000 to emigrate to Palestine, Lutz kept ”negotiating” with the German and Hungarian authorities. In the process he changed his objective. He wanted to save as many Jewish lives as possible.
As a ruse, he and his staff started to issue tens of thousands of added ”protective letters”, even though these were no longer backed by any Palestine certificates. In Order to hide the new approach, Lutz was always careful to repeat numbers one to 8,000 and never to surpass them. Each 1,000 names were grouped together into one Swiss collective passport. This meant that the applicants stood under formal Swiss protection.
As the Hungarian authorities insisted on concentrating all Budapest Jews into one large ghetto, Lutz placed part of the Jews protected by Switzerland – about 30,000 people – in 76 protected houses. The inhabitants of these houses were precariously fed and helped out by the Consul meager financial and material resources. Meanwhile, the young Jewish Chalutzim (pioneers) provided communications within the entire Jewish community and the underground.
In 1941 about 742,800 Jews lived in Hungary. In Budapest, some 124,000 survived the war. Between 15 May and 9 July, 437,402 people died in Auschwitz. Carl Lutz helped 62,000 Jews to survive.
Franz Bischof was actively involved in rescuing Jews along with Carl Lutz in the Swiss Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45. In addition, Bischof personally hid more than 30 Jews from Nazi deportation and murder.]]>