Aristides de Sousa Mendes
Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches GCC, OL was a Portuguese consul during World War II. As the Portuguese consul-general in the French city of Bordeaux, he defied the orders of António de Oliveira Salazar's Estado Novo regime, issuing visas and passports to an undetermined number of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, including Jews. For this, Sousa Mendes was punished by the Salazar regime with one year of inactivity with the right to one half of his rank's pay, being obliged subsequently to be retired; however he ended up never being forced to retire and he received a full consul salary until his death in 1954. Sousa Mendes was vindicated in 1988, more than a decade after the Carnation Revolution, which toppled the Estado Novo. For his efforts to save Jewish refugees, Sousa Mendes was recognized by Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations, the first diplomat to be so honored, in 1966. Aristides de Sousa Mendes was born in Cabanas de Viriato, in Carregal do Sal, in the district of Viseu, Centro Region of Portugal, on July 19, 1885, shortly after midnight.
His twin brother César, born a few minutes earlier, had a July 18 birthday. Their ancestry included a notable aristocratic line: their mother, Maria Angelina Ribeiro de Abranches de Abreu Castelo-Branco, was a maternal illegitimate granddaughter of the 2nd Viscount of Midões, a lower rural aristocracy title, their father, José de Sousa Mendes, was a judge on the Coimbra Court of Appeals. César served in the early days of António de Oliveira Salazar's regime, their younger brother, Jose Paulo, became a naval officer. Sousa Mendes and his twin studied law at the University of Coimbra, each obtained his degree in 1908. In that same year, Sousa Mendes married Maria Angelina Coelho de Sousa, they had fourteen children, born in the various countries in which he served. Shortly after his marriage, Sousa Mendes began the consular officer career that would take him and his family around the world. Early in his career, he served in Zanzibar, Spain, the United States, Belgium. In August 1919, while posted in Brazil, he was "temporarily suspended by the Foreign Ministry, which regarded him as hostile to the republican regime."
Subsequently, "he had financial problems and was forced to take out a loan in order to provide for his family needs." He returned home to Portugal where his son Pedro Nuno was born in Coimbra in April 1920. In 1921, Sousa Mendes was assigned to the Portuguese consulate in San Francisco, two more of his children were born there. In 1923, he angered some members of the Portuguese-American community because of his insistence that certain applicants contribute to a Portuguese charity. Both sides decided to publish their arguments in local newspapers; the conflict led to the US Department of State canceling his consular exequatur, which prevented him from continuing his consular services in the US. While in San Francisco, Sousa Mendes helped establish a Portuguese Studies program at the University of California at Berkeley. In May 1926, a coup d'état replaced the republic in Portugal with a military dictatorship, a regime that according to Sousa Mendes "had been greeted with delight" in Portugal, he supported the new regime at first and his career prospects improved.
In March 1927, Sousa Mendes was assigned to serve as the Consul in Vigo in Spain, where he helped the military dictatorship neutralize political refugees. In 1929 he was sent to Belgium to serve as Dean of the Consular Corps; the year of 1934 was a tragic year for the Sousa Mendes family with the loss of two of their children: Raquel one year old, Manuel, who had just graduated from the University of Louvain. In Antwerp, Sousa Mendes was disciplined for tardiness in the transferring of funds to the head of the Foreign Office. In 1938, he was assigned to the post of Consul-General of Bordeaux, with jurisdiction over the whole of the southwest of France. In 1932, the Portuguese dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar began, by 1933, the secret police, the State Defense and Surveillance Police, PIDE, had been created. According to historian Avraham Milgram, by 1938, Salazar "knew the Nazis' approach to the'Jewish question'. From fears that aliens might undermine the regime, entry to Portugal was limited.
Toward this end, the apparatus of the PIDE was extended with its International Department given greater control over border patrol and the entry of aliens. Most aliens wishing to enter Portugal at that time were Jews." Portugal during World War II, like its European counterparts, adopted tighter immigration policies, preventing refugees from settling in the country. Circular 10, of 28 October 1938, addressed to consular representatives, deemed that settling was forbidden to Jews, allowing entrance only on a tourist visa for thirty days. On 9 November 1938, the Nazi government of Germany began open war against its Jewish citizens with the pogrom known as Kristallnacht, with over a thousand synagogues damaged or destroyed, thousands of Jewish businesses damaged, 30,000 Jews arrested and at least 91 Jews murdered. On 1 September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, home at that time to the largest Jewish community in the world, precipitating the start of World War II. Salazar reacted by sending a telegram to the Portuguese Embassy in Berlin ordering that it should be made clear to the German Reich that Portuguese law did not allow any distinction based on race, therefore Portuguese Jewish citizens could not be discriminated against.
The German invasion of Poland led the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany. The number of refugees trying to make use of Portugal's neutrality
Gino Bartali, nicknamed Gino the Pious and Ginettaccio, was a champion road cyclist. He was the most renowned Italian cyclist before the Second World War, having won the Giro d'Italia twice and the Tour de France in 1938. After the war he added one more victory in each event: the Giro d'Italia in 1946 and the Tour de France in 1948, his second and last Tour de France victory in 1948 gave him the largest gap between victories in the race. In September 2013, 13 years after his death, Bartali was recognised as a "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem for his efforts to aid Jews during World War II. Gino Bartali was born in Ponte a Ema, Italy, the third son of four children of a smallholder, Torello Bartali, he was powerfully built, with a boxer's face. He earned pocket money by selling raffia to makers of covers for wine bottles, he began work in a bicycle shop when he was 13. He started racing at 13, became a promising amateur and turned professional in 1935 when he was 21, he was Italian champion the next year.
On 14 November 1940 Bartali married Adriana Bani in Florence. The wedding was celebrated by Cardinal Della Costa and was blessed by Pope Pius XII, to whom Bartali donated a bicycle. Bartali won a stage of the 1935 Giro d'Italia and was King of the Mountains, the first of seven times he won the title in the Giro, he was 20. In 1936, before he turned 22, he won the Giro and the Giro di Lombardia, although his season was marred when his brother, died in a racing accident on 14 June. Bartali came close to giving up cycling, he was persuaded in 1937 won the Giro again. His reputation outside Italy was that he was yet another Italian who could not ride well outside his country. There was some truth in the claim; the writer Tim Hilton said: "Bartali was an Italian cyclist, a champion who rode within sight of his own people, was uneasy when the Tour de France travelled north of Paris. He never disputed the northern classics."Stung by the claim, he rode the Tour de France in 1937. He got off to a bad start, losing more than eight minutes by the third stage and more than ten by the Ballon d'Alsace, a mountain in the Vosges.
There he came back to life and led by 1m 14s over the rest and by enough over the leaders that he took the leader's jersey that night in Grenoble. But, the end of his race, he and two helpers, Jules Rossi and Francesco Camusso, were riding across a wooden bridge over the river Colau when Rossi skidded. Bartali fell into the river. Roger Lapébie wrote: "In the valley that leads to Briançon, I saw the accident to the maillot jaune, Bartali; the narrow and bumpy road ran along the foot of a rock. Rossi, leading, took a bend badly and his back wheel hit the parapet of a bridge. Bartali, beside Rossi, couldn't get clear and I saw him fall over the bridge and into the little river three metres below." Camusso pulled him out. Bartali had trouble breathing because of a blow to the chest, he rode on to the end of the day pushed by his helpers. He kept his lead, he got through the Alps, by having lost his jersey, retired in Marseille. Before he dropped out, he notified the organiser, Henri Desgrange, who said: "You are the first rider to come to see me before dropping out.
You're Gino. We'll see each other again next year and you'll win." He did return in 1938 and overcame the teamwork of the Belgians, the cold and rain and a puncture on the Col de l'Iseran. He won the hardest stage, from Digne by more than five minutes; the radio commentator Georges Briquet, after he had seen the crowds of Italians greeting Bartali with green-white-red flags said: "These people had found a superman. Outside Bartali's hotel at Aix-les-Bains, an Italian general was shouting'Don't touch him – he's a god.'" A public subscription was started in his name in Italy, Benito Mussolini was among the contributors. The approaching war led Italy not to send a team in 1939. Bartali once after it, he won classics such as Milan -- the Giro di Lombardia and the Züri-Metzgete. His most famous victory was the 1948 Tour de France. Bartali returned to the Tour in 1948 to find that many riders he had known had died in the war and that there were as many more who had started racing since he stopped, he was so worried.
The Tour started in a rainstorm and Bartali found he could identify nobody because the whole field was wearing waterproofs. He found he was with Briek Schotte; the two finished together at Trouville, Bartali took the yellow jersey. It was during that Tour that the leader of the Italian Communist Party, Palmiro Togliatti, was shot in the neck by a sniper as he was leaving the parliament building; the writer Bernard Chambaz said: History and myth united, a miracle if you like, because that evening Bartali got a phone call at his hotel. In a bad mood, dubious, he didn't want to answer, but someone whispered that it was Alcide de Gasperi, his old friend from Catholic Action, now parliamentary president, who told him that Palmiro Togliatti, secretary-general of the communist party, had been shot at and had survived by a miracle. The situation in the peninsula was tense amid the ravages of the Cold War. Italy needed to win stages; the communists occupied factories and radio and television stations, angry rows in parliament came close to blows.
A revolt was looming. Bartali won three stag
Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The term originates with the concept of "righteous gentiles", a term used in rabbinic Judaism to refer to non-Jews, called ger toshav, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah; when Yad Vashem, the Shoah Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by the Knesset, one of its tasks was to commemorate the "Righteous Among the Nations". The Righteous were defined as non-Jews. Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel has been charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous Among the Nations". Guided in its work by certain criteria, the commission meticulously studies all documentation including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses, evaluates the historical circumstances and the element of risk to the rescuer, decides if the case meets the criteria.
Those criteria are: Only a Jewish party can put a nomination forward Helping a family member, or helping a Jew who converted to Christianity is not a criterion for recognition. It has been given to royalty such as Princess Alice of Battenberg, Queen Mother Helen of Romania and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium but to others like the philosopher Jacques Ellul and to Amsterdam department store employee Hendrika Gerritsen. A person, recognized as Righteous for having taken risks to help Jews during the Holocaust is awarded a medal in their name, a certificate of honor, the privilege of having the name added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem; the awards are distributed to the rescuers or their next-of-kin during ceremonies in Israel, or in their countries of residence through the offices of Israel's diplomatic representatives. These ceremonies are given wide media coverage; the Yad Vashem Law authorizes Yad Vashem "to confer honorary citizenship upon the Righteous Among the Nations, if they have died, the commemorative citizenship of the State of Israel, in recognition of their actions".
Anyone, recognized as "Righteous" is entitled to apply to Yad Vashem for the certificate. If the person is no longer alive, their next of kin is entitled to request that commemorative citizenship be conferred on the Righteous who has died. In total, 26,973 men and women from 51 countries have been recognized, amounting to more than 10,000 authenticated rescue stories. Yad Vashem's policy is to pursue the program for as long as petitions for this title are received and are supported by evidence that meets the criteria. Recipients who choose to live in the State of Israel are entitled to a pension equal to the average national wage and free health care, as well as assistance with housing and nursing care. At least 130 Righteous Gentiles have settled in Israel, they were welcomed by Israeli authorities, were granted citizenship. In the mid-1980s, they became entitled to special pensions; some of them settled in British Mandatory Palestine before Israel's establishment shortly after World War II, or in the early years of the new state of Israel, while others came later.
Those who came earlier spoke fluent Hebrew and have integrated into Israeli society. The Righteous are honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States on 16 July. A Righteous from Italy, Edward Focherini, was beatified by the Catholic Church on 15 June 2013. In 2015, Lithuania's first street sign honoring a Righteous Among the Nations was unveiled in Vilnius; the street is named Simaites Street, after Ona Šimaitė, a Vilnius University librarian who helped and rescued Jewish people in the Vilna Ghetto. As of June 16, 2017, the award has been made to 26,513 people. European Day of the Righteous Individuals and groups assisting Jews during the Holocaust List of Righteous Among the Nations by country Righteousness Virtuous pagan Żegota The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, Mark Klempner, ISBN 0-8298-1699-2, The Pilgrim Press. Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: Genocide and Moral Obligation, David P. Gushee, ISBN 1-55778-821-9, Paragon House Publishers.
The Lexicon of the Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.. To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue, Land-Weber, Ellen, ISBN 0-252-02515-6, University of Illinois Press; the Seven Laws of Noah, Aaron, New York: The Rabbi Jacob Joseph School Press, 1981, ASIN B00071QH6S. The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism, David, ISBN 0-88946-975-X, New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983; the Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust, Mordecai, ISBN 0-88125-376-6, KTAV Publishing House, Inc. Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands, Robert Satloff, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, ISBN 1-58648-399-4; when Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland, Nechama, ISBN 0-19-505194-7, Oxford University Press. Zegota: The Council to Aid Jews in Occupied Poland 1942-1945, Irene & Werbowski, Tecia, ISBN 1-896881-15-7, Price-Patterso
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
National Socialism, more known as Nazism, is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party – the National Socialist German Workers' Party – in Nazi Germany, of other far-right groups with similar aims. Nazism is a form of fascism and showed that ideology's disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system, but incorporated fervent antisemitism, anti-communism, scientific racism, eugenics into its creed, its extreme nationalism came from Pan-Germanism and the Völkisch movement prominent in the German nationalism of the time, it was influenced by the Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged after Germany's defeat in World War I, from which came the party's "cult of violence", "at the heart of the movement."Nazism subscribed to theories of racial hierarchy and Social Darwinism, identifying the Germans as a part of what the Nazis regarded as an Aryan or Nordic master race. It aimed to overcome social divisions and create a German homogeneous society based on racial purity which represented a people's community.
The Nazis aimed to unite all Germans living in German territory, as well as gain additional lands for German expansion under the doctrine of Lebensraum and exclude those who they deemed either community aliens or "inferior" races. The term "National Socialism" arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of "socialism", as an alternative to both Marxist international socialism and free market capitalism. Nazism rejected the Marxist concepts of class conflict and universal equality, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism, sought to convince all parts of the new German society to subordinate their personal interests to the "common good", accepting political interests as the main priority of economic organization; the Nazi Party's precursor, the Pan-German nationalist and antisemitic German Workers' Party, was founded on 5 January 1919. By the early 1920s the party was renamed the National Socialist German Workers' Party – to attract workers away from left-wing parties such as the Social Democrats and the Communists – and Adolf Hitler assumed control of the organization.
The National Socialist Program or "25 Points" was adopted in 1920 and called for a united Greater Germany that would deny citizenship to Jews or those of Jewish descent, while supporting land reform and the nationalization of some industries. In Mein Kampf, Hitler outlined the anti-Semitism and anti-Communism at the heart of his political philosophy, as well as his disdain for representative democracy and his belief in Germany's right to territorial expansion; the Nazi Party won the greatest share of the popular vote in the two Reichstag general elections of 1932, making them the largest party in the legislature by far, but still short of an outright majority. Because none of the parties were willing or able to put together a coalition government, in 1933 Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul Von Hindenburg, through the support and connivance of traditional conservative nationalists who believed that they could control him and his party. Through the use of emergency presidential decrees by Hindenburg, a change in the Weimar Constitution which allowed the Cabinet to rule by direct decree, bypassing both Hindenburg and the Reichstag, the Nazis had soon established a one-party state.
The Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel functioned as the paramilitary organizations of the Nazi Party. Using the SS for the task, Hitler purged the party's more and economically radical factions in the mid-1934 Night of the Long Knives, including the leadership of the SA. After the death of President Hindenburg, political power was concentrated in Hitler's hands and he became Germany's head of state as well as the head of the government, with the title of Führer, meaning "leader". From that point, Hitler was the dictator of Nazi Germany, known as the "Third Reich", under which Jews, political opponents and other "undesirable" elements were marginalized, imprisoned or murdered. Many millions of people were exterminated in a genocide which became known as the Holocaust during World War II, including around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. Following Germany's defeat in World War II and the discovery of the full extent of the Holocaust, Nazi ideology became universally disgraced.
It is regarded as immoral and evil, with only a few fringe racist groups referred to as neo-Nazis, describing themselves as followers of National Socialism. The full name of the party was Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei for which they used the acronym NSDAP; the term "Nazi" was in use before the rise of the NSDAP as a colloquial and derogatory word for a backwards farmer or peasant, characterizing an awkward and clumsy person. In this sense, the word Nazi was a hypocorism of the German male name Ignatz – Ignatz being a common name at the time in Bavaria, the area from which the NSDAP emerged. In the 1920s, political opponents of the NSDAP in the German labour movement seized on this and – using the earlier abbreviated term "Sozi" for Sozialist as an example – shortened NSDAP's name, Nationalsozialistische, to the dismissive "Nazi", in order to associate them with the derogatory use of the term mentioned above; the first use of the term "Nazi" by the National Socialists occurred in 1926 in a publication by Joseph Goebbels called Der Nazi-Sozi.
In Goebbels' pamphlet, the word "Nazi" only appears when linked with the word "Sozi" as an abbreviation of
Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust
Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust are those who, during World War II, helped Jews and others escape the Holocaust conducted by Nazi Germany. A well-known rescuer was one of thousands who have been so recognized. Since 1953 Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, has recognized 26,973 persons as Righteous among the Nations. Yad Vashem's Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice, recognizes rescuers of Jews as Righteous among the Nations. Holocaust rescuers came from many different countries in the world. Poland had a large Jewish population, according to Norman Davies, more Jews were both killed and rescued in Poland than in any other nation: the rescue figure being put at between 100,000–150,000; the memorial at Bełżec extermination camp commemorates 600,000 murdered Jews and 1,500 Poles who tried to save Jews. Thousands in Poland have been honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, constituting the largest national contingent.
Martin Gilbert wrote that "Poles who risked their own lives to save the Jews were indeed the exception. But they could be found throughout Poland, in every town and village." Until the end of Communist domination, much of German-occupied Poland's Holocaust history was hidden behind the veil of the Iron Curtain. During the World War II Nazi occupation, Poland was the only country where any help provided to a person of Jewish faith or origin was punishable by death, yet 6,532 men and women have been recognized as rescuers by Yad Vashem in Israel. Poland during the Holocaust of World War II was under total enemy control: half of Poland was occupied by the Germans, as the General Government and Reichskomissariat; the list of Polish citizens recognized as Righteous include 700 names of those who lost their lives while trying to help their Jewish neighbors. There were groups, such as the Polish Żegota organization, that took drastic and dangerous steps to rescue victims. Witold Pilecki, a member of Armia Krajowa, the Polish Home Army, organized a resistance movement in Auschwitz from 1940, Jan Karski tried to spread word of the Holocaust.
When AK Home Army Intelligence discovered the true fate of transports leaving the Jewish Ghetto, the Council to Aid Jews – Rada Pomocy Żydom – was established in late 1942 in co-operation with church groups. The organization saved thousands. Emphasis was placed on protecting children, as it was nearly impossible to intervene directly against the guarded transports. False papers were prepared, children were distributed among safe houses and church networks. Two women founded the movement: the Catholic writer and activist Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and the socialist Wanda Filipowicz; some of its members had been involved in Polish nationalist movements, which were themselves anti-Jewish, but which became appalled by the barbarity of the Nazi mass murders. In an emotional protest prior to the foundation of the Council, Kossak wrote that Hitler's race murders were a crime about which it was not possible to remain silent. While Polish Catholics might still feel Jews were "enemies of Poland", Kossak wrote that protest was required: "God requires this protest from us...
It is required of a Catholic conscience... The blood of the innocent calls for vengeance to the heavens."In the 1948–49 Zegota Case, the Stalin-backed regime established in Poland after the war secretly tried and imprisoned the leading survivors of Zegota as part of a campaign to eliminate and besmirch resistance heroes who might threaten the new regime. The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture writes "One cannot forget the repeated initiatives of the head of the Greek Christian Orthodox Metropolitan See of Thessaloniki, against the deportations, most of all, the official letter of protest signed in Athens on March 23, 1943, by Archbishop Damaskinos of the Greek Orthodox Church, along with 27 prominent leaders of cultural and professional organizations; the document, written in a sharp language, refers to unbreakable bonds between Christian Orthodox and Jews, identifying them jointly as Greeks, without differentiation. It is noteworthy that such a document is unique in the whole of occupied Europe, in character and purpose".
The 275 Jews of the island of Zakynthos, survived the Holocaust. When the island's mayor, Lucas Κarrer, was presented with the German order to hand over a list of Jews, Bishop Chrysostomos returned to the amazed Germans with a list of two names. Moreover, the Bishop wrote a letter to Hitler himself stating that the Jews of the island were under his supervision. In the meantime the island's population hid every member of the Jewish community; when the island was levelled by the great earthquake of 1953, the first relief came from the state of Israel, with a message that read "The Jews of Zakynthos have never forgotten their Mayor or their beloved Bishop and what they did for us."The Jewish community of Volos, one of the most ancient in Greece, has had fewer losses than any other Jewish community in Greece thanks to the timely and dynamic intervention and mobilization of the massive communist-leftist partisan movement of EAM-ELAS and the successful cooperation of the head of the Greek Christian Orthodox Metropolitan See of Demetrias Joachim and the chief rabbi of Volos Moses Pesach for the evacuation of Volos from the Jewish people, after the events in a Thessaloniki.
Princess Alice of Battenberg and Greece, the wife of P
Giorgio Perlasca was an Italian businessman and former fascist who, with the collaboration of official diplomats, posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary in the winter of 1944, saved 5,218 Jews from deportation to Nazi Germany death camps in eastern Europe. Giorgio Perlasca grew up in Maserà, province of Padua, Italy. During the 1920s, he became a supporter of Fascism, fighting in East Africa during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, in the Spanish Civil War for the Nationalist Corpo Truppe Volontarie; as a gratitude safe conduct for his service in Spain, he was awarded a diplomatic mission from Francisco Franco. Perlasca grew disillusioned with Fascism, in particular due to Benito Mussolini's alliance with Nazism and adoption of the Italian Racial Laws, that came into force in 1938. During the initial phase of World War II, he worked at procuring supplies for the Italian Army in the Balkans, he was appointed as an official delegate of the Italian government with diplomatic status and sent to Eastern Europe with the mission of buying meat for the Italian army fighting on the Russian front.
On 8 September 1943, Italy surrendered to the Allied forces. Italians had to choose whether to join Benito Mussolini's newly formed Italian Social Republic, fascist, or stay loyal to the King and join the Allies' side. Perlasca chose the latter. In Budapest, he was confined to a castle reserved for diplomats. After a few months, he used a medical pass that allowed him to travel within Hungary and he requested political asylum at the Spanish Embassy, he took advantage of his status as a veteran of the Spanish war. He adopted the first name of "Jorge" and, since Spain was neutral in the war, he became a free man. Perlasca worked with the Spanish Chargé d'Affaires, Ángel Sanz Briz, other diplomats of neutral states to smuggle Jews out of Hungary; the system he devised consisted of furnishing'protection cards' which placed Jews under the guardianship of various neutral states. He helped Jews find refuge in protected houses under the control of various embassies, which had extraterritorial conventions that gave them an equivalent to sovereignty.
They could provide asylum for Jews. When Sanz Briz was removed from Hungary to Switzerland in November 1944, he invited Perlasca to accompany him to safety. However, Perlasca chose to remain in Hungary; the Hungarian government ordered the Spanish Embassy building and the extraterritorial houses where the Jews took refuge to be cleared out. Perlasca made the false announcement that Sanz Briz was due to return from a short leave, that he had been appointed his deputy for the meantime. Throughout the winter, Perlasca was active in hiding and feeding thousands of Jews in Budapest, he continued issuing safe conduct passes, on the basis of a Spanish law passed in 1924 that granted citizenship to Jews of Sephardic origin. In December 1944, Perlasca rescued two boys from being herded onto a freight train in defiance of a German lieutenant colonel on the scene; the Swedish diplomat-rescuer Raoul Wallenberg present there told Perlasca that the officer who had challenged him was Adolf Eichmann. During 45 days period from 1 December 1944 to 16 January 1945, Perlasca helped save more than 5,000 Jews, about four times more than saved by Oskar Schindler.
According to Perlasca, he prevented the execution of a plan to blow up the Budapest ghetto with around 60,000 people in it, the way the Nazis did in Warsaw. While he was posing as the Spanish consul-general, he heard of the intention to burn down the ghetto. Shocked and incredulous, he asked for a direct hearing with the Hungarian interior minister Gábor Vajna, threatened him with legal and economic measures against the "3000 Hungarian citizens" declared by Perlasca as residents of Spain, unless he withdraws the horrible project. If not for this threat, it was called off once Perlasca offered to rescue Vajna and his family from Hungary, before the advancing Soviet Army reach Budapest. After the war, Perlasca returned to Italy, he did not talk about his actions in Hungary to anyone, including his family, came back to his humble life. In 1987, a group of Hungarian Jews whom he had saved found him, after searching for him for 42 years in Spain. There was publicity at the time, Perlasca became noted for his heroic deeds.
Enrico Deaglio wrote an account of his remarkable single-handed valour, Banality of Goodness, which became a bestseller. The book was adapted as a made-for-TV film, Perlasca – Un eroe Italiano, by the RAI national television corporation. Giorgio Perlasca died of a heart attack in 1992. In 1987 Perlasca was made an honorary citizen of Israel and was honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum with a stele and a 10,000 tree forest. Perlasca has been designated by Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1989 for his efforts Star of Merit, Hungary, 1989 Knesset Medal, Israel, 1989 Town Seal of Padova, Italy, 1989 Wallenberg Medal, United States, 1990 Medal of Remembrance of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, USA, 1990 Invitation to lay the first stone of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, USA, 1990 Knight Grand Cross, Spain, 1991 1st Class, Knight Grand Cross, 1991 Gold Medal for Civil Bravery, 1992 A bust of Perlasca was created in Budapest; as part of its Righteous Among the Nations project, the Raanana Symphonette Orchestra commissioned an original orchestral piece, "His Finest Hour", from composer Moshe Zorman in tribute to Perlasca.
The piece premiered December 10, 2014 in Raanana in the presence of Perlasca's son Franco and daughter-in-law Luciana Amadia. Insi