The Rescuers are the diplomats from across the globe who, by virtue of being assigned to posts throughout Europe in the years around the Holocaust and World War II, were put in positions of great power to save the lives of Jews who sought to flee Nazi-controlled Europe.
Selahattin Ulkumen – Turkey
The Muslim diplomat, who was the official Turkish Consul on the Greek island of Rhodes, used his position to provide documents that saved Jews from the Nazis, and ultimately is responsible for their generations of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He lost his wife in an attack by a German Air Force plane.
Captain Frank Foley – England
The Englishman went to Berlin as a spy for the British Secret Intelligence Service in the 1920s and remained when Hitler came to power. His cover was to serve as the Passport Control Officer in Berlin, which became a primary focus as he sought to ensure that Jews could get out of Nazi Germany before they were killed. More than 10,000 lives were saved from his courage and very hard work.
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz – Germany
A member of the Nazi Party, Georg Duckwitz was the German Attaché in Copenhagen, Denmark who was assigned the responsibility to shipping the country’s Jews to Germany. Duckwitz arranged for the Swedish Prime Minister to agree to take in the Danish Jews. He organized the rescue of 7,200 people, an amazing feat of goodness from someone who was a member of an organization – the Nazi Party – trained in the art of evil.
Hiram Bingham IV – United States
The diplomat served as Vice-Consul at the American Consulate in Marseille, France was in charge of American interests in the French port city. Bingham provided Jewish refugees with visa documents allowing them to cross over into neutral Spain and ultimately to safety from the Nazis. It is estimated that he, along with Varian Fry, saved tens of thousands of people.
Varian Fry – United States
An American, Fry first witnessed Nazi atrocities as a journalist and later returned to Marseille on behalf of the Emergency Rescue Committee. With the help of Hiram Bingham and others, Fry enabled Jews and many others to flee German-controlled France. It is estimated that they saved tens of thousands of people.
Chiune Sugihara – Japan
The Japanese Imperial Consul in Kaunas, Lithuania issued transit visas allowing Jews to travel across European Russia and Siberia to Japan. He was responsible for saving several thousand Polish Jews who had fled to Lithuania. He acted against the specific instructions of his government and issued the visas. Ultimately as many as 3,000 people were saved. As a result of his work, rather than being honored by the Japanese government, he was dismissed from the foreign office and sacrificed his pension and future career.
Jan Zwartendijk – Holland
A Dutch businessman, Jan Zwartendijk served as the Director of Lithuanian Operations for the Phillips Company and had consular powers in Kaunas, Lithuania, from the Dutch government. He made transit visas to Dutch-controlled Curaçao possible for Polish Jews looking to emigrate and escape danger.
Henryk Slawik – Poland
The Polish diplomat in Hungary saved Polish Jews and issued Polish diplomatic documents, meant for Christians or Aryans, to Jews to allow them to flee to freedom. He saved more than 5,000 Jews. Slawik refused to testify against Jozsef Antall, a colleague from the Ministry of Internal Affairs who performed heroic rescue work for refugees. He was executed by the Germans for his refusal to betray Jozsef Antall.
Carl Lutz – Switzerland
The Swiss Vice Consul in Budapest, Hungary, joined with other diplomats to provide protective documents that helped save tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest.
Raoul Wallenberg – Sweden
The First Secretary for the Swedish government in Budapest, Hungary, participated in a unique collective diplomatic effort that helped save 120,000 Jews in Budapest in a dramatic challenge to the Nazis and the Hungarian fascist Arrow Cross.
Angelo Rotta – Italy
The Catholic Bishop in Budapest, Hungary, helped save 25,000 Jews by bringing together diplomats representing numerous European countries to provide protective documents for an entire neighborhood set up specifically by the diplomats to protect 25,000 of the Jews in Budapest.
Princess Alice – Greece
The great granddaughter of Queen Victoria of Britain, Empress of India, wife of Prince Andrew of Greece, and grandmother to His Royal Highness Charles, The Prince of Wales. Princess Alice provided refuge to the Cohen family from Athens hiding them in her palace in Athens from the Nazis.