New York, NY – On July 20th in 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the surface of the moon. He spoke to the world, ”one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Meanwhile, it was 77 years before on the same date, when Gilberto Bosques Saldívar, a Mexican diplomat sent to France during World War II, was born in the State of Puebla. He, who helped Jews in France to escape to Mexico, has been a great example of ”a life-risking endeavor for one man, a life-saving drama for one thousand.”
Gilberto Bosques Saldívar started his diplomatic career in 1939. He was appointed by the President of Mexico as the Consul General in France, which at that time was under the occupation of Nazi regime. During his five-year stay in France, Bosques fulfilled his diplomatic mission in an extraordinary and exemplary way. He encouraged a large number of Jews and leaders of the Austrian and French Resistance to escape to Mexico by granting special visas to them.
In a letter addressed to Bosques in 1941, Dr. Alfred Kantorowicz, a Jew saved by Bosques, wrote: ”I and my wife shall be leaving tomorrow for Mexico via Martinica. I cannot leave without repeating the sincere thanks, both my wife’s and mine, for everything you have done for us.”
But in 1943, his work as Consul was halted by the Nazis. The German army banished his rescuing activity and captured him in the German Village of Bad Godsenberg. He stayed there for one year and returned to Mexico just before the War came to an end. Later on, he served as the Ambassador of Mexico in Portugal, Finland, Sweden and Cuba.
Gilberto Bosques Saldívar is still remembered as one of the greatest Holocaut Saviors. Just like Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews during just six months in 1944,Bosques showed exceptional courage and humanity that have outshined throughout the modern history.
In 2005, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops public campaigns and educational programs based on the Holocaust Saviors’ ethical cornerstones, held a ceremony to honor Bosques, in presence of diplomats, leaders of the Jewish Community and members of the press. The State of Puebla engraved his name on the walls of the Congress. The City of Vienna named a street after Bosques in 2003.
”Holocasut Saviors considered the rescuing activities as their lifetime mission,” says Daniela Bajar, Director of Programs and Special Projects at IRWF. ”And it is our job to commemorate their achievements and to transmit them to the future generations.”