Individuals and groups assisting Jews during the Holocaust

This is a partial list of rescuers who helped Jewish people and others to escape from the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, possibly the most well-known among whom was Oskar Schindler. The list is not exhaustive, concentrating on famous cases, or people who saved the lives of many potential victims. Since 1963, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel, has recognized 24,356[1] people as Righteous Among the Nations, most of whom belonging to Poland. (as of 1 January 2013). The commission, called The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, organized by Yad Vashem and headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice, has been charged with the duty of awarding people who rescued Jews the honorary title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Most prominent examples

Holocaust rescuers came from many different countries in the world.



Poland had a large Jewish population, and, according to Norman Davies, more Jews were both killed and rescued in Poland than in any other nation: the rescue figure usually being put at between 100,000-150,000.[2] The memorial at Bełżec extermination camp commemorates 600,000 murdered Jews and 1,500 Poles who tried to save Jews.[3] Thousands in Poland have been honoured as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, constituting the largest national contingent.[4] 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."[5]

Irena Sendler, member of Żegota, saved 2,500 Jewish children

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 (more than from any other country in the world) have been recognized as rescuers by Yad Vashem in Israel.[6][7]

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 other half by the Soviets, along with the territories of today's Belarus and Ukraine. The list of Polish citizens officially recognised as Righteous include 700 names of those who lost their lives while trying to help their Jewish neighbors.[8] There were also 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, and 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 (codename Zegota) - was established in late 1942 in co-operation with church groups. The organisation saved thousands. Emphasis was placed on protecting children, as it was nearly impossible to intervene directly against the heavily guarded transports. False papers were prepared, and children were distributed among safe houses and church networks.[9] 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 of 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."[10]

In the 1948-9 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.[11]


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, Gennadios, against the deportations, and 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, academic and professional organizations. The document, written in a very 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, content and purpose".[12]

The 275 Jews of the island of Zakynthos, however, survived the Holocaust. When the island's mayor, Lucas Κarrer (Λουκάς Καρρέρ), 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; his and the mayor's. Moreover, the Bishop wrote a letter to Hitler himself stating that the Jews of the island were under his supervision.[13] In the meantime the island's population hid every member of the Jewish community. When the island was almost 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."[14]

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 partizan movement of EAM-ELAS (National Liberation Front (Greece)Greek People's Liberation Army) 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 (displacement of the city's Jews to concentration camps).

Princess Alice of Battenberg and Greece, who was the wife of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and mother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom stayed in occupied Athens during the Second World War, sheltering Jewish refugees, for which she is recognised as "Righteous Among the Nations" at Yad Vashem. Although the Germans and Bulgarians[15] deported a great number of Greek Jews, others were successfully hidden by their Greek neighbours.

A touching testimony of 82-year-old Simon Danieli, who traveled from Israel to his birthplace in Veria to thank the descendants of the people who helped him and his family escape Nazi persecution during World War II.

Danieli was 13 in 1942 when his family—father Joseph, a grain merchant, mother Buena, and nine siblings—fled Veria to escape the increasingly frequent atrocities committed by Nazi forces against the city’s Jews. They ended up in a small nearby village in Sykies, where the family was taken in by Giorgos and Panayiota Lanara, who offered them shelter, food and a hiding place in the woods, helped also by a priest, Nestoras Karamitsopoulos. The Nazis, however, soon stormed Sykies, where around 50 more Jews from Veria had also taken refuge. They questioned the priest about the whereabouts of the Jews, but when Karamitsopoulos refused to answer, they began raiding people’s homes. They found Jews hidden in eight homes, and promptly torched the houses. They also turned their wrath on the priest, torturing him and pulling out his beard, according to Danieli.[16]


Père Marie-Benoît was a French Capuchin priest who helped smuggle approximately 4,000 Jews into safety from Nazi-occupied Southern France and subsequently recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous among the Nations in 1966. The French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon sheltered several thousand Jews. The Brazilian diplomat Luis Martins de Souza Dantas illegally issued Brazilian diplomatic visas to hundreds of Jews in France during the Vichy Government, saving them from almost certain death. Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the religious head of the Islamic Center of France helped more than a thousand Jews by providing fake IDs to the Jews of Paris during the German occupation of France. He also managed to hide many Jewish families in the rooms of Paris Mosque as well as in the residencies and women's prayer areas.[17][18][19][20]


In April 1943, members of the Belgian resistance held up the twentieth convoy train to Auschwitz, and freed 231 people. Several local governments did all they could to slow down or block the registration processes for Jews they were obliged to perform by the Nazis. Many people saved children by hiding them away in private houses and boarding schools. Of the approximately 50,000 Jews in Belgium in 1940, about 25,000 were deported—though only about 1,250 survived. Marie and Emile Taquet sheltered Jewish boys in a residential school or home. The Reverend Bruno Reynders was a Catholic Belgian Monk who defied the Nazis (as well as the Vatican, please verify) to work with local orphanages, Nuns and the Jewish and Belgian Underground to forge false identities for Jewish children whose parents willingly gave them up in an attempt to spare their lives faced with deportation to the death camps. Pere Bruno risked his life for his values and to save the lives of an estimated 400 Jewish children and is honored as a Righteous Gentile at Yad Vashem.

L'abbe Joseph Andre is another Catholic priest who secured safe hiding places with Belgian families, orphanages and other institutions for Jewish children and adults.


The Jewish community in Denmark remained relatively unaffected by Germany's occupation of Denmark on April 9, 1940. The Germans allowed the Danish government to remain in office and this cabinet rejected the notion that any "Jewish question" should exist in Denmark. No legislation was passed against Jews and the yellow badge was not introduced in Denmark. In August 1943, this situation was about to collapse as the Danish government refused to introduce the death penalty as demanded by the Germans following a series of strikes and popular protests. The German empire forced the Danish government to shut down. During these events, German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz tipped off Danish politician Hans Hedtoft that the Danish Jews would be deported to Germany following the collapse of the Danish government. Hedtoft alerted the Danish resistance and the Jewish leader C.B. Henriques informed the acting Chief Rabbi Marcus Melchior in the absence of the Chief Rabbi Max Friediger who had already been arrested as a hostage on August 29, 1943, urging the community to go into hiding in a service on September 29, 1943. During the following weeks, more than 7,200 of Denmark's 8,000 strong Jewish community were ferried to neutral Sweden hidden in fishing boats. A small number of Jews, some 450 in all, were captured by the Germans and shipped to Theresienstadt. Danish officials were able to ensure that these prisoners weren't shipped to extermination camps, and Danish Red Cross inspections and food packages ensured focus on the Danish Jews. Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte ensured their release and transport to Denmark in the final days of the war. Denmark rescued around 7,200 Jews en masse in October 1943.


Dimitar Peshev from National Assembly prevented the deportation of native Bulgaria's 48,000 Jews.[21]

Bulgaria joined the Axis powers in March 1941 and took part in the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece.[22] The Nazi-allied government of Bulgaria, led by Bogdan Filov, fully and actively assisted in the Holocaust in occupied areas. On Passover 1943 Bulgaria rounded up the great majority of Jews in Greece and Yugoslavia, transported them through Bulgaria, and handed them off to German transport to Treblinka, where almost all were killed. It did not deport its own 50,000 Jewish citizens, after yielding to pressure from the parliament deputy speaker Dimitar Peshev and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Nazi-allied government of Bulgaria deported a higher percentage of Jews (from the areas of Greece and the Republic of Macedonia) than did the German occupiers in the region.[23][24] In Bulgarian occupied Greece, the Bulgarian authorities arrested the majority of the Jewish population on Passover 1943.[25][26][27][28][29] The active participation of Bulgaria in the Holocaust however did not extend to its pre-war territory and after various protests by Archbishop Stefan of Sofia and the interference of Dimitar Peshev the planned deportation of the Bulgarian Jews (about 50,000) was stopped. The territories of Greece, Macedonia and other nations occupied by Bulgaria during World War II were not considered Bulgarian – they were only administered by Bulgaria, but Bulgaria had no say as to the affairs of these lands. As to the Jews in the sovereign state of Bulgaria – deportation to the concentration camps was denied. Furthermore, Bulgaria was officially thanked by the government of Israel despite being an ally of Nazi Germany.[30]

Dimitar Peshev was the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Bulgaria and Minister of Justice during World War II. He rebelled against the pro-Nazi cabinet and prevented the deportation of Bulgaria’s 48 000 Jews. When it came to its own Jewish citizens, the government faced strong opposition from Peshev and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Although Peshev had been involved in various anti-Semitic legislation that was passed in Bulgaria during the early years of the War, the government decision to deport Bulgaria’s 48 000 Jews on March 8, 1943 was too much for Peshev. After being informed of the deportation, Peshev tried several times to see Prime Minister Bogdan Filov but the prime minister refused. Next, he went to see Interior Minister Petar Gabrovski insisting that he cancel the deportations. After much persuasion, Gabrovski finally called the governor of Kyustendil and instructed him to stop preparations for the Jewish deportations. By 5:30 p.m. on March 9, the order was cancelled. After the war, Peshev was charged with anti-Semitism and anti-Communism by the Soviet courts, and sentenced to death. However, after outcry from the Jewish community, his sentence was commuted to 15 years imprisonment, though released after just one year. His deeds went unrecognized after the war, as he lived in poverty in Bulgaria. It was not until 1973 when he was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations. He died the same year.


Historians have estimated that up to one million refugees fled from the Nazis through Portugal during World War II. An impressive number considering the size of the country’s population at that time (circa 6 million).[31] Portugal remained neutral within the overall objectives of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance; and that astute policy under precarious conditions, made it possible for Portugal to contribute to the rescue of a large number of refugees.[32] Portuguese Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar allowed all international Jewish organizations.—HIAS, HICEM, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, World Jewish Congress, and Portuguese Jewish relief committees— to establish themselves in Lisbon.[33] In 1944, in Hungary, risking their lives, the diplomats Carlos Sampaio Garrido and Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho, coordinated with Salazar, also helped many Jews escape Nazis and their Hungarian allies.[34] In June 1940, when Germany invaded France, Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, Aristides de Sousa Mendes issued visas, indiscriminately, to a population in panic,[35] without asking previous authorizations to Lisbon, as he was supposed to. On June 20 the British Embassy in Lisbon accused the Consul in Bordeaux of improperly charging money for issuing visas and Sousa Mendes was called to Lisbon. The number of visas issued by Sousa Mendes cannot be determined, a 1999 study by the Yad Vashem historian Dr. Avraham Milgram published by the Shoah Resource Center, International School for Holocaust Studies,[36] asserts that there is a great difference between reality and the myth created by the generally cited numbers. Sousa Mendes never lost his title as he kept on being listed in the Portuguese Diplomatic Yearbook until 1954 and kept on receiving his full Consul salary, $1,593 Portuguese Escudos,[37][38] until the day he died.[39] Other Portuguese who deserve further credit for saving Jews during the war are Professor Francisco Paula Leite Pinto and Moisés Bensabat Amzalak. A devoted Jew, and a Salazar supporter, Amzalak headed the Lisbon Jewish community for more than fifty years (from 1926 until 1978). Leite Pinto, General Manager of the Portuguese railways, together with Amzalak, organized several trains, coming from Berlin and other cities, loaded with refugees.[40][41][42]


In Franco's Spain, several diplomats contributed very actively to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. The two most prominent ones were Ángel Sanz Briz (the Angel of Budapest), who saved around five thousand Hungarian Jews by providing them Spanish passports, and Eduardo Propper de Callejón, who helped thousands of Jews to escape from France to Spain. Other diplomats with a relevant role were Bernardo Rolland de Miota (consul of Spain at Paris), José Rojas Moreno (Ambassador at Bucharest), Miguel Ángel de Muguiro (diplomat at the Embassy in Budapest), Sebastián Romero Radigales (Consul at Athens), Julio Palencia Tubau, (diplomat at the Embassy in Sofía), Juan Schwartz Díaz-Flores (Consul at Vienna) and José Ruiz Santaella (diplomat at the Embassy in Berlin).


Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Consul-General in Kaunas, issued thousands of visas to Jews fleeing Nazi occupied Poland in defiance with Japanese foreign policy.[43]

Chiune Sempo Sugihara, Japanese Consul-General in Kaunas, Lithuania, 1939–1940, issued thousands of visas to Jews fleeing German-occupied Poland in defiance of explicit orders from the Japanese foreign ministry. The last foreign diplomat to leave Kaunas, Sugihara continued stamping visas from the open window of his departing train. After the war, Sugihara was fired from the Japanese foreign service, ostensibly due to downsizing. In 1985, Sugihara's wife and son received the Righteous Among the Nations honor in Jerusalem, on behalf of the ailing Sugihara, who died in 1986. Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, the Italian Giorgio Perlasca, Chinese consul-general to Austria Ho Feng Shan, and others also saved tens of thousands of Jews with fake diplomatic passes.


Unlike many other Eastern European countries under Nazi occupation, Albania which was predominantly Muslim became a safe haven for Jews.[44] At the end of 1938, Albania was the only remaining country in Europe that still issued visas to Jews through its embassy in Berlin.[45] Following the Nazi occupation of Albania, the country refused to hand over its small Jewish population to the Germans,[46] sometimes even providing Jewish families with forged documents.[44] During the war about 2,000 Jews sought refuge in Albania, and many of them took shelter in rural parts of the country where they were protected by the local population.[44] At the end of the war Albania's Jewish population was greater than it was prior to the war, making it the only country in Europe where the Jewish population increased during World War II.[47] Out of two thousand Jews in total,[48] only five Albanian Jews perished at the hands of the nazis.[46] They were discovered by the Germans and subsequently deported to Pristina.[49]

Between February and March in 1939, King Zog I of Albania granted asylum to 300 Jewish refugees before being overthrown by the Italian fascists in April the same year. When the Italians requisitioned the Albanian puppet government to expel its Jewish refugees, the Albanian leaders valiantly refused, and in the following years 400 more Jewish refugees found sanctuary in Albania.[50]

Refik Veseli was the first Albanian to be awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations,[51] having declared afterwards that betraying the Jews "would have disgraced his village and his family. At minimum his home would be destroyed and his family banished".[52] On July 21, 1992, Mihal Lekatari, an Albanian partisan from Kavajë was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. Lekatari is noted for stealing blank identity papers from the municipality of Harizaj and distributing identity papers with Muslim names on them to Jewish refugees.[53] In 1997, Albanian Muslim Shyqyri Myrto was honored for rescuing Jews, with the Anti-Defamation League's Courage to Care Award presented to his son, Arian Myrto.[54] In 2006, a plaque honoring the compassion and courage of Albania during the Holocaust was dedicated in Holocaust Memorial Park in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, New York, with the Albanian ambassador to the United Nations in attendance.[note 1]

During the war, some parts of Kosovo and Macedonia which were occupied by the Axis powers were annexed to Albania, and an estimated 600 Jews were captured in these territories, and consequently killed.[56]


The government of Finland generally refused to deport Finnish Jews to Germany. It has been said that Finnish government officials told German envoys that "Finland has no Jewish Problem". However, the Secret Police ValPo deported 8 Jews in 1942 who had criminal records. Moreover, it seems highly likely that Finland deported Soviet POWs, among them a number of Jews. The majority of Finnish Jews however, were protected by the government's co-belligerence with Germany. Their men joined the Finnish army and fought on the front.

The most notable Finnish individual involved in aiding the Jews was Algoth Niska (1888-1954). Niska had been smuggler during the Finnish prohibition, but had run into financial troubles after its end in 1932, so when Albert Amtmann, an Austrian-Jewish acquaintance, expressed his concerns over his people's position in Europe, Niska quickly saw a business opportunity in smuggling Jews out of Germany. The modus operandi was quickly established. Niska would forge Finnish passports and Amtmann would acquire the customers, who with their new passports would able to cross the border out of Germany. All in all Niska falsified passports for 48 Jews during 1938 and earned 2,5 million Finnish marks ($890,000 or £600,000 in today's money) selling them. Only three of the Jews are known to have survived the Holocaust while twenty were certainly caught. The fates of the other twenty-five are not known. Involved in the operation with Niska and Amtmann were Major Rafael Johannes Kajander, Axel Belewicz and Belewicz's girlfriend Kerttu Ollikainen whose job was to steal the forms on which the passports were forged.[57][58]


Despite Benito Mussolini's close alliance with Hitler, Italy did not adopt Nazism's genocidal ideology towards the Jews. The Nazis were frustrated by the Italian forces' refusal to co-operate in the roundups of Jews, and no Jews were deported from Italy prior to the Nazi occupation of the country following the Italian capitulation in 1943.[59] In Italian-occupied Croatia, the Nazi envoy Siegfried Kasche advised Berlin that Italian forces had "apparently been influenced" by Vatican opposition to German anti-Semitism.[60] As anti-Axis feeling grew in Italy, the use of Vatican Radio to broadcast papal disapproval of race murder and anti-Semitism angered the Nazis.[61] Mussolini was overthrown in July 1943, and the Nazis moved to occupy Italy, commencing a round-up of Jews. Though thousands were caught, the great majority of Italy's Jews were saved. As in other nations, Catholic networks were heavily engaged in rescue efforts.[note 2]

In Fiume (northern Italy, today Croatian Rijeka), Giovanni Palatucci, after the promulgation of racial laws against Jews in 1938 and at the beginning of war in 1940, as chief of the Foreigners' Office, forged documents and visas to Jews threatened by deportation. He managed to destroy all documented records of the some 5,000 Jewish refugees living in Fiume, issuing them false papers and providing them with funds. Palatucci then sent the refugees to a large internment camp in southern Italy protected by his uncle, Giuseppe Maria Palatucci, the Catholic Bishop of Campagna. Following the 1943 capitulation of Italy, Fiume was occupied by Nazis. Palatucci remained as head of the police administration without real powers. He continued to clandestinely help Jews and maintain contact with the Resistance, until his activities were discovered by the Gestapo. The Swiss Consul to Trieste, a close friend of his, offered him a safe pass to Switzerland, but Giovanni Palatucci sent his young Jewish fiancée instead. Palatucci was arrested on September 13, 1944. He was condemned to death, but the sentence was later commuted to deportation to Dachau, where he died.

On 19 July 1944 the Gestapo rounded up the nearly 2000 Jewish inhabitants of the island of Rhodes, which had been governed by Italy since 1912. Of the approximately 2,000 Rhodesli Jews who were deported to Auschwitz and elsewhere, only 104 survived.

Giorgio Perlasca, under the guises of Spanish ambassador in Budapest, was able to put under his protection thousands of Jews and non-Jews destined to concentration camps.

Martin Gilbert wrote that, in October 1943, with the SS occupying Rome and determined to deport the city's 5000 Jews, the Vatican clergy had opened the sanctuaries of the Vatican to all "non-Aryans" in need of rescue in an attempt to forestall the deportation. "Catholic clergy in the city acted with alacrity", wrote Gilbert. "At the Capuchin convent on the Via Siciliano, Father Benoit saved a large numbers of Jews by providing them with false identification papers [...] by the morning of October 16, a total of 4,238 Jews had been given sanctuary in the many monasteries and convents of Rome. A further 477 Jews had been given shelter in the Vatican and its enclaves." Gilbert credited the rapid rescue efforts of the Church with saving over four fifths of Roman Jews.[62]

Other Righteous Catholic rescuers in Italy included Elisabeth Hesselblad.[63] She and two British women, Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough and Sister Katherine Flanagan have been beatified for reviving the Swedish Bridgettine Order of nuns and hiding scores of Jewish families in their convent.[64] The churches, monasteries and convents of Assisi formed the Assisi Network and served as a safe haven for Jews. Gilbert credits the network established by Bishop Giuseppe Placido Nicolini and Abbott Rufino Niccaci of the Franciscan Monastery, with saving 300 people.[65] Other Italian clerics honoured by Yad Vashem include the theology professor Fr Giuseppe Girotti of Dominican Seminary of Turin, who saved many Jews before being arrested and sent to Dachau where he died in 1945; Fr Arrigo Beccari who protected around 100 Jewish children in his seminary and among local farmers in the village of Nonantola in Central Italy; and Don Gaetano Tantalo, a parish priest who sheltered a large Jewish family.[66][67][68] Of Italy's 44,500 Jews, some 7,680 were murdered in the Nazi Holocaust.[69]

Vatican City State

The Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence, was thrown open to Jews fleeing the Nazi roundups in Northern Italy. In Rome, Pope Pius XII had ordered the city's Catholic institutions to open themselves to the Jews, and 4715 of the 5715 people listed for deportation by the Nazis were sheltered in 150 institutions – 477 in the Vatican itself.

In the 1930s, Pope Pius XI urged Mussolini to ask Hitler to restrain the anti-Semitic actions taking place in Germany.[70] In 1937, the Pope issued the Mit brennender Sorge (German: "With burning concern") encyclical, in which he asserted the inviolability of human rights.[71][note 3]

Pius XII

Pope Pius XII succeeded Pius XI on the eve of war in 1939. He used diplomacy to aid the victims of the Holocaust, and directed the Church to provide discreet aid.[78] His encylicals such as Summi Pontificatus and Mystici corporis preached against racism —with specific reference to Jews: "there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision".[79] His 1942 Christmas radio address denounced the murder of "hundreds of thousands" of "faultless" people because of their "nationality or race". The Nazis were furious and The Reich Security Main Office, responsible for the deportation of Jews, called him the "mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals".[80] He intervened to attempt to block Nazi deportations of Jews in various countries.[81]

Following the capitulation of Italy, Nazi deportations of Jews to death camps began. Pius XII protested at diplomatic levels, while several thousand Jews found refuge in Catholic networks. On 27 June 1943, Vatican Radio broadcast a papal injunction: "He who makes a distinction between Jews and other men is being unfaithful to God and is in conflict with God's commands".[82]

When the Nazis came to Rome in search of Jews, the Pope had already days earlier ordered the sanctuaries of the Vatican City be opened to all "non-Aryans" in need of refuge and according to Martin Gilbert, by the morning of October 16, "a total of 477 Jews had been given shelter in the Vatican and its enclaves, while another 4,238 had been given sanctuary in the many monasteries and convents of in Rome. Only 1,015 of Rome's 6,730 Jews were seized that morning".[83] Upon receiving news of the roundups on the morning of 16 October, the Pope immediately instructed Cardinal Secretary of State Maglione, to make a protest to the German ambassador. After the meeting, the ambassador gave orders for a halt to the arrests. Earlier, the Pope had helped the Jews of Rome by offering gold towards the 50 kg ransom demanded by the Nazis.[84]

Other noted rescuers assisted by Pius were Pietro Palazzini[85] Giovanni Ferrofino,[86] Giovanni Palatucci, Pierre-Marie Benoit and others. When Archbishop Giovanni Montini (later Pope Paul VI) was offered an award for his rescue work by Israel, he said he had only been acting on the orders of Pius XII.[84]

Pius' diplomatic representatives lobbied on behalf of Jews across Europe, including in Vichy France, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia, Germany itself and elsewhere.[76][84][87][88][89][90] Many papal nuncios played important roles in the rescue of Jews, among them Giuseppe Burzio, the Vatican Chargé d'Affaires in Slovakia, Fillipo Bernardini, Nuncio to Switzerland and Angelo Roncalli, the Nuncio to Turkey.[91] Angelo Rotta, the wartime Nuncio to Budapest and Andrea Cassulo, the Nuncio to Bucharest have been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations.

Pius directly protested the deportations of Slovakian Jews to the Bratislava government from 1942.[92] He made a direct intervention in Hungary to lobby for an end to Jewish deportations in 1944, and on July 4, the Hungarian leader, Admiral Horthy, told Berlin that deportations of Jews must cease, citing protests by the Vatican, the King of Sweden and the Red Cross.[93] The pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic Arrow Cross seized power in October, and a campaign of murder of the Jews commenced. The neutral powers led a major rescue effort and Pius' representative, Angelo Rotta, took the lead in establishing an "international Ghetto", marked by the emblems of the Swiss, Swedish, Portuguese, Spanish and Vatican legations, and providing shelter for some 25,000 Jews.[94]

In Rome, some 4,000 Italian Jews and escaped prisoners of war avoided deportation, many of them hidden in safe houses or evacuated from Italy by a resistance group organized by the Irish-born priest, and Vatican official Hugh O'Flaherty. Msgr. O'Flaherty used his political connections to help secure sanctuary for dispossessed Jews.[95] The wife of the Irish ambassador, Delia Murphy, assisted him.



Between 1933 and 1941, the Chinese city of Shanghai accepted unconditionally over 18,000 Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust in Europe, a number greater than those taken in by Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and British India combined during World War II. Japanese government ensured Jewish safety in China, Japan and Manchuria.[96] Japanese Army General Hideki Tōjō received Jewish refugees in accordance with Japanese national policy and rejected German protest.[97] After 1943, the occupying Nazi-aligned Japanese ghettoised the Jewish refugees in Shanghai into an area known as the Shanghai ghetto. Many of the Jewish refugees in Shanghai migrated to the United States and Israel after 1948 due to the Chinese Civil War (1946–1950).


Between 1938 and 1941, around 20,000 Jews were given visas for Bolivia under an agricultural visa program. Although most moved on to the neighboring countries of Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, some stayed and created a Jewish Community in Bolivia. [98]

Leaders and diplomats

Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and his colleagues saved as many as 100,000 Hungarian Jews by providing them with diplomatic passes.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes, between June 16 and 23, 1940, frantically issued Portuguese visas, free of charge, to over 30,000 refugees seeking to escape the Nazi terror.
Chinese Consul Ho Feng-Shan in Vienna who freely issued thousands of visas to Jews.
Paul Grüninger, commander of the police of the Canton of St. Gallen in Switzerland, who provided falsely dated papers from late 1938 to autumn 1939 to over 3,000 refugees so they could escape Austria.[102][103]

Religious figures

Catholic officials



The Religious Society of Friends, known as Quakers, from 1933 played a major role in assisting and saving Jews through their international network of centres (Berlin, Paris, Vienna) and organizations. In 1947 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Friends Service Council and to the American Friends Service Committee. Also individual Friends did rescue work.

Prominent individuals

Count Kazamery Deak Lajos & Deak Elizabeth .... Hungary / Magyaregregy ...6 people...4 children and they parents, saved, and sent over to New York City after 7 months of hiding in the basement.

Villages helping Jews

For more details on Polish villages helping Jews, see Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust.


See also


  1. In 1943, the Nazis asked Albanian authorities for a list of the country's Jews. They refused to comply. "Jews were then taken from the cities and hidden in the countryside", Goldfarb explained. "Non-Jewish Albanians would steal identity cards from police stations [for Jews to use]. The underground resistance even warned that anyone who turned in a Jew would be executed." ... "There were actually more Jews in the country after the war than before—thanks to the Albanian traditions of religious tolerance and hospitality."[55]
  2. The situation in Italy was somewhat peculiar in that, notwithstanding Mussolini's proclamation against Jews, most Italians had no personal hatred against them. Liliana Picciotto, the historian of the archive of Fondazione Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (Foundation Center for the Contemporary Jewish Documentation) writes that of the 32,300 Jews living in Italy under German occupation, only 8,000 were arrested, whereas 23,500 escaped unharmed. She speculates that the overall percentage of Jews who survived in Italy owed this to the solidarity the persecuted found among the local population.
  3. It was written partly in response to the Nuremberg Laws, and condemned racial theories and the mistreatment of people based on race.[72][73][74] Pius XI condemned the 1938 Kristallnacht, sparking mass demonstrations against Catholics and Jews in Munich, where the Bavarian Gauleiter Adolf Wagner declared: "Every utterance the Pope makes in Rome is an incitement of the Jews throughout the world to agitate against Germany".[75] The Vatican took steps to find refuge for Jews.[76] Pius XI rejected the Nazi claim of racial superiority, and insisted instead that there was only a single human race.[77]


  2. Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw; Viking; 2003; p.200
  3. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.88
  4. Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw; Vikiing; 2003; p594
  5. Martin Gilbert (2002). The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust. Doubleday. pp. 88, 109. ISBN 038560100X.
  6. "Statistics – The Righteous Among The Nations – Yad Vashem".
  7. "Yad Vashem – The Righteous Among Nations".
  8. "List of Poles Killed Helping Jews During the Holocaust".
  9. Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw; Vikiing; 2003; p.200
  10. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; pp.120-121
  11. Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw; Vikiing; 2003; p.566 & 568
  12. The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture, p.2
  13. "Η Απίστευτη Ιστορία των Εβραίων της Ζακύνθου – Μνήμη Ολοκαυτώματος - ΙΣΡΑΗΛ: ΘΥΜΑ ΤΡΟΜΟΚΡΑΤΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΜΜΕ". ΙΣΡΑΗΛ: ΘΥΜΑ ΤΡΟΜΟΚΡΑΤΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΜΜΕ.
  14. Zakynthos: The Holocaust in Greece, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, URL accessed April 15, 2006.
  15. Glenny, p.508
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  18. The Great Mosque of Paris that saved Jews during the Holocaust, Offer Aderet, HAARTZ
  19. Norman H Gershman, Stories of WWII, the missing pages
  20. "Muslims Who Helped Save French Jews". The Forward. 10 January 2012.
  21. Official portrait, Council of Europe Art Collection, Author: Ivan Minekov.
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  25. The Official Web Site of KIS, the Central Jewish Council of Greece
  26. The Official Web Site of KIS, the Central Jewish Council of Greece
  27. The Official Web Site of KIS, the Central Jewish Council of Greece
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  31. Lochery, Neill - "Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939–45", PublicAffairs; 1 edition (November 1, 2011), ISBN 1-58648-879-1
  32. Leite, Joaquim da Costa. "Neutrality by Agreement: Portugal and the British Alliance in World War II." American University, Available online at
  33. 1 2 Milgram, Avraham. "Portugal, Salazar, and the Jews", Publication Date: March 20, 2012 ISBN 978-9653083875
  34. "Spared Lives: The Actions of Three Portuguese Diplomats During World War II". The Newark Public Library. August 24, 2000. Retrieved 2009-07-28.
  35. Caught up in the exodus, two British volunteers in the French Ambulance Corps, Dennis Freeman and Douglas Cooper (art historian), captured the drama and agony of this civilian nightmare in “The Road to Bordeaux.”[49] London: Harper, 1941
  36. Milgram, Avraham. "Portugal, the Consuls, and the Jewish Refugees, 1938–1941". Source: Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XXVII, Jerusalem, 1999, pp. 123-56.
  37. Documents from Arquivo Digital Ministerio das Financas ACMF/Arquivo/DGCP/07/005/003
  39. Several other sources also mention the monthly allowance that Sousa Mendes received until his death in 1954: A letter that Sousa Mendes wrote to the Portuguese Bar Association, Ordem dos Advogados – Secretaria do Conselho Geral, Lisboa, Cota – Processo nº 10/1931 Date 1946.04.29 where he says that he is receiving a monthly salary of 1,593 Portuguese Escudos. Other source: Wheeler, Douglas L., "And Who Is My Neighbor? A World War II Hero of Conscience for Portugal," Luso-Brazilian Review 26:1 (Summer, 1989): 119-39.
  40. Testimonial from Professor Baltasar Rebelo de Sousa in OLIVEIRA, Jaime da Costa. «Fotobiografia de Francisco de Paula Leite Pinto». No centenário do nascimento de Francisco de Paula Leite Pinto, Memória 2, Lisboa, Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa, 2003 –
  41. Testimonial from famous Portuguese historian, Jose Hermano Saraiva – Interview to “Sol” newspaper-
  42. «Salazar visto pelos seus próximos», Testemunho de Francisco de Paula Leite Pinto, Organização de Jaime Nogueira Pinto.ISBN 972-25-0567-X, 1993 Bertrand Editora S.A.
  43. David G. Goodman, Masanori Miyazawa (2000). Jews in the Japanese mind: the history and uses of a cultural stereotype. Lexington Books. p. 112. ISBN 0-7391-0167-6. The last diplomat to leave Kaunas, Sugihara continued stamping visas from the open window of his departing train.
  44. 1 2 3 (, Deutsche Welle. "Albanians saved Jews from deportation in WWII | Europe | DW.COM | 27.12.2012". DW.COM. Retrieved 2016-01-29.
  45. Elsie, Robert. A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology and Folk Culture. p. 141.
  46. 1 2 Esposito, John L. (2004). The Islamic World: Abbasid-Historian. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-19-516520-3.
  47. Rabben, Linda. Give Refuge to the Stranger: The Past, Present, and Future of Sanctuary. p. 114.
  48. Gilbert, Martin. The Righteous. p. 302.
  49. Rozett, Robert. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. p. 104.
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  55. "The Forward – News that Matters to American Jews". The Forward.
  56. Green, David B. (2 April 2013). "Jewish Albanians Gain a Foothold". Haaretz.
  57. Jussi Samuli Laitinen; Huijari vai pyhimys? Algoth Niskan osallisuus juutalaisten salakuljettamiseen Keski-Euroopassa vuoden 1938 aikana; Joensuun yliopisto; 2009
  59. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.307-8
  60. Martin Gilbert; The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy; Collins; London; 1986; p.466
  61. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.308 & 311
  62. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.314
  63. " » Niece astonished as Cause of Sister Katherine advances".
  64. Taylor, Jerome (2 June 2010). The Independent. London Missing or empty |title= (help)
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  66. 1 2 A litany of World War Two saints; Jerusalem Post; 11 April 2008.
  67. "Father Arrigo Beccari and Dr. Giuseppe Moreali – The Righteous Among The Nations – Yad Vashem".
  68. "Don Gaetano Tantalo – The Righteous Among The Nations – Yad Vashem".
  69. "Italy. Historical Background – The Righteous Among The Nations – Yad Vashem".
  70. Paul O'Shea; A Cross Too Heavy; Rosenberg Publishing; p. 230 ISBN 978-1-877058-71-4
  71. Anton Gill; An Honourable Defeat; A History of the German Resistance to Hitler; Heinemann; London; 1994; p.58
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  76. 1 2 The Auschwitz Album
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  82. 1 2 Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.311
  83. 1 2 Martin Gilbert; The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy; Collins; London; 1986; pp.622-623
  84. 1 2 3 Hitler's Pope? Archived February 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.; Martin Gilbert; The American Spectator; 18/8/06
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  91. 1 2 3 Michael Phayer; The Catholic Church and the Holocaust 1930–1965; Indiana University Press; 2000; p.83
  92. 1 2 The Churches and the Deportation and Persecution of Jews in Slovakia; by Livia Rothkirchen; Vad Yashem.
  93. 1 2 Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.335
  94. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.337
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  97. 1 2 David G. Goodman, Masanori Miyazawa (2000). Jews in the Japanese mind: the history and uses of a cultural stereotype. Lexington Books. p. 113. ISBN 0-7391-0167-6.
  98. "Refuge in Latin America". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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  106. Johnson's aid to Leinsdorf is mentioned in Caro, Robert (1982). The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power. Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 481–482. ISBN 0-394-49973-5. His aid to Leinsdorf and to the other refugees is mentioned in Woods, Randall (2006). LBJ: Architect of American Ambition. Free Press. pp. 139–140. ISBN 0-684-83458-8.
  107. The Israeli Government's Official Website, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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  110. El Salvador's Holocaust Hero
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  112. Western People: Roundfort cabaret honours legendary Delia Murphy
  113. Diplomáticos que salvaron judíos durante el Holocausto | Especiales | Israel en Tiempo de Noticias. Judaismo y Pueblo Judio a diario. El
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  117. "Winton's Children – Index Page".
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  122. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 0-385-60100-X; p.207
  123. Martin Gilbert; The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy; Collins; London; 1986; p.451
  124. 1 2 Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 0-385-60100-X; p.203
  125. "Bishop Pavel Gojdic – The Righteous Among The Nations – Yad Vashem".
  126. 1 2 "Raoul Wallenberg – Diplomats".
  127. Hitler's Pope? Archived February 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.; by Sir Martin Gilbert, The American Spectator.
  128. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.230
  129. Martin Gilbert; The Righteous – The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust; Doubleday; 2002; ISBN 038560100X; p.114
  130. Michael Phayer; The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930–1965; Indiana University Press; p.117-
  131. 1 2 "Wallenberg Emblekbizottsag". Retrieved 2013-08-18.
  132. The Holocaust in Greece
  133. uk:Ковч Омелян
  134. "First Arab Nominated for Holocaust Honor". Associated Press. 2007-01-30. Archived from the original on 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-02-01.
  135. Allen, Jerry C: Conrad Veidt: From Caligari to Casablanca. Boxwood Press, 1992.
    • Dietrich Bonhoeffer – a German Lutheran pastor who joined the Abwehr (a German military intelligence organization) which was also the center of the anti-Hitler resistance, was involved in operations to help German Jews escape to Switzerland.
    "Tisíc pět set zachráněných životů – Schindler nebyl sám" (in Czech). Denní Telegraf Praha. 1995-06-27. p. 5.
  136. ЯРУГА: СЕЛО-ПРАВЕДНИК. Борис ХАНДРОС | История | Человек
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  138. (Polish) Jolanta Chodorska, ed., "Godni synowie naszej Ojczyzny: Świadectwa," Warsaw, Wydawnictwo Sióstr Loretanek, 2002, Part Two, pp.161–62. ISBN 83-7257-103-1
  139. Kalmen Wawryk, To Sobibor and Back: An Eyewitness Account (Montreal: The Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies, and The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, 1999), pp.66–68, 71.
  140. Ryszard Walczak (1997). Those Who Helped: Polish Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. Warsaw: GKBZpNP–IPN. p. 51. ISBN 9788376290430. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  141. Szymon Datner (1968). Las sprawiedliwych. Karta z dziejów ratownictwa Żydów w okupowanej Polsce. Warsaw: Książka i Wiedza. p. 99.
  142. Peggy Curran, "Decent people: Polish couple honored for saving Jews from Nazis," Montreal Gazette, December 10, 1994; Janice Arnold, "Polish widow made Righteous Gentile," The Canadian Jewish News (Montreal edition), January 26, 1995; Irene Tomaszewski and Tecia Werbowski, Żegota: The Council for Aid to Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942–1945, Montreal: Price-Patterson, 1999, pp.131–32.
  143. (Polish) "Odznaczenia dla Sprawiedliwych," Magazyn Internetowy Forum 26,09,2007.
  144. Milgram, Avraham. "Portugal, Salazar, and the Jews", Publication Date: March 20, 2012 ISBN 978-9653083875 pp 116
  145. Ben-Zwi Kalischer – On The Way to the Land of Israel tr. from the German by Shalom Kramer (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1945) pp 174-182
  146. Portugal-Europe's Crossroads –
  147. "Jewish Labor and the Holocaust".

Further reading

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