Joyce D. Mandell, who has a second home in Boca Raton, is executive producer for the documentary, “The Rescuers,” which consists of interviews regarding 13 diplomats who saved hundreds of thousands of Jews and others during the Holocaust. (Courtesy)
Fifteen hours of interviews regarding 13 diplomats who saved hundreds of thousands of Jews and others during the Holocaust that are part of the 2011 documentary “The Rescuers,” are to be integrated into the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
The film was directed and produced by Michael King, and its executive director is Joyce D. Mandell, who lives in West Hartford, CT but has a second home in Boca Raton. Mandell said she is a donor for the Lion of Judah of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
The film was nominated in the Outstanding Documentary category at the NAACP Image Awards in 2011. It was inspired by the work of British historian Sir Martin Gilbert and his 2003 book, “The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust.”
Among the diplomats described in the documentary are Raoul Wallenberg, Varian Fry and Hiram Bingham. Their efforts earned them the status of “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The interviews being integrated into the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive consist of the inaugural collection of testimonies to be named the Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection, which will be made available to the public in the fall in conjunction with the 82nd anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Among those featured in the collection are testimonies from survivors and relatives who recount the stories about the diplomats.
Mandell discussed the impact the diplomats’ stories had on her.
“I am a Jewish woman, but my family was, fortunately, not caught up in the Holocaust,” she said. “My grandparents and family came to the United States before [Holocaust], but I had an interest in it because I saw a photography exhibit on Ellis Island, and the exhibit was about diplomats who rescued Jews during World War II, and I was fascinated by what these diplomats did.”
In what is considered to be a related development, King is expanding his research efforts with support from the Andrew J. and Joyce D. Mandell Family Foundation and USC Shoah Foundation to identify additional survivors and relatives to continue to document the stories of an additional 32 diplomats with “Righteous Among the Nations” status. The goal for this is for these new stories to be ultimately added to the Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection in the future.
King and Mandell are leading the new initiative, and a team of researchers is currently working to identify people who knew the 32 diplomats or Holocaust survivors who benefited from their assistance.
“This is our last chance to document first-hand accounts related to diplomats who were at the center of the 20th century’s most unforgettable events,” King said in a news release.
Mandell said, “I think this is a very important moment in time for us to reach out to as many people as we can around the world to tell this story.”
“We still have grandchildren who are interested in this story because their grandparents lived it and they survived,” she said. “For me, it’s very interesting how the survivors have gone on to make lives for themselves. Some did not want to talk about their past, unless a family member tapped into it during a conversation with a grandparent or great grandparent.”
The 32 diplomats the research team is looking to include are: Brazilian diplomats Aracy De Carvalho (Germany) and Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas (France); Chinese diplomat Feng Shan Ho (Austria); Ecuadorian diplomat Manuel Borrero Muñoz (Sweden); El Salvadoran diplomat José Castellanos Contreras (Geneva, Switzerland); French diplomat François de Vial (Italy); Italian diplomats Pacifico Marchesini (The Netherlands), Giorgio Perlasca (Hungary) and Angelo Rotta (Hungary); Peruvian diplomat Jose Maria Baretto (Geneva, Switzerland); Polish diplomats Władysław Bartoszewski (Warsaw) and Konstanty Rokicki (Switzerland); Portuguese diplomat Carlos Sampaio (Hungary); Romanian diplomats Constantin Karadja (Germany) and Florian Manoliu (Hungary); Slovakian Ján Spišiak (Hungary); Spanish diplomats Angel Sanz Briz (Hungary), Eduardo Propper de Callejon (France), Sebastian Radigales (Greece), and Jose Santaella (Germany); Swedish diplomats Per Anger (Hungary), Lars Berg (Hungary), Carl Ivan Danielsson (Hungary), and Elow Kihlgren (Italy); Swiss diplomats Harald Feller (Hungary), Ernst Prodolliet (Austria), Ernst Vonrufs (Hungary), and Peter Zurcher (Hungary); and Yugoslavian diplomat Franjo Puncuch (Warsaw), among others.
As the research team is looking to speak with anyone who may have information about the diplomats who are to be included in the expanded collection, anyone with pertinent information can visit rescuersdoc.com.