Righteous among the Peoples
June 29, 2008 3:59 PM   Subscribe

In March 1944, Nazi Germany occupied its ally Hungary and immediately began preparing the extermination of Hungary's Jews. A small band of diplomats from neutral countries and the Red Cross put their lives at risk to try to smuggle as many Jews as possible out of Hungary from under Adolf Eichmann's nose. While Raoul Wallenberg remains the best known of these "Righteous among the Nations", there's no doubt that the most intriguing character was Giorgio "Jorge" Perlasca.

A fugitive himself, as an Italian national who had refused his allegiance to Mussolini's puppet Salò Republic, Perlasca had found refuge at the Spanish embassy, where he immediately received a Spanish passport as a veteran from the Italian Francoist volunteers of the CTV in the Spanish Civil War, and joined the Spanish chargé d'affaires, Ángel Sanz Briz, in protecting as many Sephardic (and not-so-Sephardic) Jews as possible under a 1924 Spanish decree granting citizenship to these descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492. When the Spanish diplomats were withdrawn to Switzerland, Perlasca appointed himself Spanish ambassador and continued Sanz Briz' efforts at enormous personal risk. After the war, he proceeded to retreat into obscurity until rediscovered forty years later.
posted by Skeptic (4 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you for posting this.
posted by semmi at 4:10 PM on June 29, 2008

A fascinating story. The last link is very readable.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:10 PM on June 29, 2008

for each individual it is possible to assume personal responsibility for the defence of life and mankind

Important for everyone to remember this. It is true.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:55 PM on June 29, 2008 [4 favorites]

Yes, thank you for posting this. We must never forget what happened in Hungary in 1944. There are many there today who see it quite differently (e.g. the Magyar Garda). We must never, ever forget these events and every reminder of the horror of these times and the all too few heroes of those same times, must be warmly welcomed.
posted by vac2003 at 1:23 AM on July 1, 2008

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