July 27, 2012

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation honors a hero and savior during the Holocaust

A book and a video will document the story of Madeleine Truel

-The video is in Spanish-

A long time has passed, but finally we are able to honor the courage of Magdalena Truel Larrabure, a Peruvian native who joined the French Resistance during World War II.

Thanks to journalist Hugo Coya’s research that was published in his book Final Station, Magdalena’s life came alive in a documentary directed by Luis Enrique Cam.

Magdalena Truel fought against the Nazi occupation in France by forging documents for the Resistance. In 1944, Magdalena was captured and tortured, but she never confessed anything. She died in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1945.

The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, an educational NGO devoted to promoting solidarity and civic courage, decided to honor Magdalena Truel.

“We cannot just overlook such a paradigm of humanitarian efforts. The Wallenberg Foundation will honor this silent hero, as well as those who uncovered her legacy” was declared by Baruch Tenembaum and Eduardo Eurnekian, founder and chairman of the foundation respectively.

Who was Magdalena Truel?

During the World War II, twenty three Peruvian native people were victims of the Nazi regime. Only one of them was not Jewish and her name was Magdalena Truel.

While living in occupied France, Magdalena enrolled in the Resistance movement. It has been estimated that she was instrumental in saving, directly or indirectly, the lives of dozens of Jews from death.

However, her story was buried for 65 years.

Ms. Truel was born on August 29, 1904 in Lima, Peru. She was the daughter of a French immigrant couple. She attended a religious catholic school and became deeply observant of her faith.

In 1924 she traveled to Paris and studied at the Sorbonne University until the war out broke. The Nazis invaded France in 1940. Magdalena stayed in France to fight the injustice that surrounded her, despite the fact that she could have gone back to Peru since she was a citizen of both France and Peru, and was not Jewish. She lost a leg in an accident, but nonetheless she joined the resistance and began the extremely dangerous task of forging documents.

Magdalena was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured, and imprisoned. They say that she used to answer the Nazi tortures with, “I will only answer to God.”

At the beginning of 1945 she was deported to Sachenhausen concentration camp, where she died on May 3, 1945 during one of the “death marches” organized by the Germans in an effort to empty the camps when the Allies were marching towards Germany.

Before she was buried, one of her fellow inmates put a Jewish bracelet around her wrist, and another inmate put a bunch of red and white geraniums to symbolize the colors of the flag of Peru.

The name Magdalena Truel is engraved on the “Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation”, monument remembering the French citizens who were deported from France during the war, which is located in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.