Acting Representative of Swiss Interests in Budapest, 1945
In December 1945, Consul Lutz appointed a Swiss lawyer, Dr. Peter Zürcher, to be his temporary representative in Pest. The nomination of this energetic man was a stroke of extraordinary luck. A few days before the Soviets occupied Pest, Zürcher heard of a plan be the SS to murder the 70,000 inhabitants of the ghetto in a last minute act of genocide. Zürcher threatened the SS commander with bringing him to trial for war crimes if he carried out this horrific plan. Zürcher’s threat worked, and the SS general ordered his troops not to enter the ghetto and even to protect Jews from the fascist Arrow Cross. Because of this heroic action by Zürcher, most of the Jews of the Pest ghetto survived. In addition, Zürcher intervened on behalf of the Jews living in Swiss safe houses in the international ghetto to prevent their murder by the Arrow Cross. He received the Righteous Among the Nations award in 1999.