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Holocaust Heroes--A short list

Updated on February 18, 2015

Dr. Fenh Shan Ho

Jan Zwartendjik

Chiune Sugihara

Raoul Wallenberg

Aristides de Sousa Mendes

In the Holocaust, 29 Who Made a Difference (a rather short list)

The book is called Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust, by Mordecai Paldiel, and perhaps the most telling thing about it is that it is very slim....

Richard C. Holbrooke, former ambassador to the United Nations, made that point during a ceremony, held Jan 24 at Park East Synagogue on Manhattan's East side, to mark the book's publication.

During the years of Nazi persecution and then mass murder of Jews, Mr. Holbrooke noted, Europe's embassies and consulates were filled with thousands of officials, but very few of them proved willing to toss aside protocol and instructions to save the lives of people threatened with death in the camps. The heroes mentioned by Mr. Holbrooke include

Feng Shan Ho, China's consul general in Vienna who earned a reprimand and loss of his post for freely issuing visas to Shanghai;

Jan Zwartendjik, a businessman serving as honorary Dutch consul in Kaunas, Lithuania and Chiune Sugihara, a consul general (and spy) for Japan. The two men issued thousands of documents providing for the entry of Jews into the Dutch-controlled Caribbean island of Curacao and to Japan;

Raoul Wallenberg, the young Swedish envoy who worked night and day distributing passports and providing safe housing, food and medical care while the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross movement committed anti-Semitic outrages and the Red Army closed in on the city;

Aristedes de Sousa Mendes, an aristocratic Portuguese consul general in Bordeaux from 1938 to July 1940, issued visas all day and all night, waived fees and the filling in of names and traveled to the Spanish border to make sure the refugees were able to cross. He confronted Spanish border guards when necessary --and continued to sign visas. For these actions he was stripped of his authority and dismissed from the diplomatic service by his superiors in Lisbon.

Aristedes de Sousa Mendes

Irene Gut Opdyke

Irene Gut Opdyke

Irene Gut, a young Polish nurse, courageously helped save a dozen Jews from the Holocaust. by hiding them in the basement of the home of a factory boss for whom she worked as a housekeeper. Her story is the subject of a play currently (3-09) at the Walter Kerr Theater on Broadway entitled "Irena's Vow" by Dan Gordon. Tovah Feldshuh plays Irene Gut Opdyke. A review of the play is linked below.  

Miep Gies, Ann Frank protector
Miep Gies, Ann Frank protector


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    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 2 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks, Old Albion!

    • old albion profile image

      Graham Lee 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

      Hi Ralph. Another excellent hub from you. Your research and presentation is first class and it shows. Tip top.


    • HollieT profile image

      HollieT 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      Ralph, your comment about Europe's embassies and the fact that very few of them were willing to throw aside protocol is entirely consistent with Witold Pilecki's claim that he had managed to inform the British Govt. about the gas chambers, and they would not intervene.

      Thanks for this hub, I find this period in history tragic, but interesting. I hadn't heard of any these heroes either :)

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 4 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      7-9-13NYTimes--In Portugal, a Protector of a People is Honored

      In Portugal, a Protector of a People Is Honored -

      Descendants of those saved from Nazism by Aristides de Sousa Mendes gathered to pay tribute to the former diplomat.

    • profile image 6 years ago from upstate, NY

      These men are great hero's in my book, war tends to bring out the best and worst in mankind!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      143iyiyi 6 years ago

      Great Hub. I'm doing a school report and all of your writings are really helping me. Thanks!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I assume you're referring to the Holocaust, not to the heroes.

    • profile image

      jelly 6 years ago

      bad stuff happened

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your kind comment.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is an outstanding list and hub. These beautiful and wonderful souls shall be remembered for the humanitarian act that they did. More should be have like them, instead of looking the other way! I believed what happened to Raoul Wallengerg after World War II was quite shameful and egregious! He was a saint!

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 6 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment. I'm now following you.

    • The Blagsmith profile image

      The Blagsmith 6 years ago from Britain

      I was encouraged to write about Chiune Sugihara by my Japanese wife. It is good to see all the others you wrote about being immortalised further through your writing. Thank you - you have another follower.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment. You should publish your school report on HubPages!

    • profile image

      Lexi 7 years ago

      I cant believe people these days. i dont know anyone who says the Holocaust is fake, but i'd love to meet the ones that say that and put them in their place.

      p.s. i just wrote a school report about horoes in the holocaust. i think they need to be recognized more.

    • Quilligrapher profile image

      Quilligrapher 7 years ago from New York

      A great hub, Ralph. We should continue to shine the spotlight of praise on all of the heroes of the holocaust. The world must never forget the risks that they took, the punishment they endured, nor the supreme sacrifice so many paid saving others. If you ever expand on your list, I hope you include Irena Sendler (1910-2008) another Heroine of the Holocaust who is credited with saving more Jews from the death camps than Oskar Schindler.

      Thanks for keeping us aware of all they did for mankind.


    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Yes, it does. Thanks for your comment.

    • cpa profile image

      cpa 8 years ago from Brooklyn, NY

      Great hub - makes one think

    • barranca profile image

      barranca 8 years ago

      Thanks, lots of information new to me.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks for this Hub and for the headsup about Miep Gies. I had heard of her many years ago and found the reading of the diary an incredibly moving experience.

      I findit totally horrible that so many people try to deny thye Holocaust. I know people who have said to me that the Diary is a fake. Unbelievable!

      Thanks again

      Love and peace


    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan


      Miep Gies : MIEP GIES, who has died aged 100, wrote towards the end of her life: “I am not a hero. I stand at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did – and much more.”

      She was, however, the material from which the truest, most decent, most steadfast heroes are made. She found and, at great personal risk, preserved the diary of Anne Frank for posterity in 1944 after the girl and her family were caught in hiding by Germans.

      More than that, she was, earlier, the friend who looked after the Frank family in their now world-famous Amsterdam annexe. She shopped for them, watched out for them, cheered them up and gave the adolescent Anne her first – and only – pair of high-heeled shoes. Without Gies, the family’s two years in hiding would have been impossible.

      After their capture, she tried to buy the people of the annexe back from Gestapo officers, only to be called “ schweinehund ” and thrown out. When Anne’s father, Otto, returned from the camps as the Franks’ only survivor, he lived as one of her family for some years.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Freya von Moltke Obituary (wife of anti-Hitler plotter Count Helmuth James von Moltke)

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 8 years ago from United States

      I have written over 50 or so, I just haven't posted them...

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 8 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      MFB, thanks much for your comment. You should write a poem about the holocaust if you haven't already. I haven't read all your Hub poems, but I've enjoyed every one I've read so far.

    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 8 years ago from United States

      I am a close friend of a Holocaust survivor, who was beatenand kicked repeatly in the face until he was blinded for life by two S.S. troopers on a forced march to a camp. I send him poetry on the hollow cost that many endured that moves through me like a steady stream of tears for man's inhumanity to others. He travels endlessly and talks to students about what many say never really happened. But I have actual photos from a relative who liberated Dachau, black and white chronicles of the monstrous massive piles of dead babies squashed beneath mothers,and deceased children clinging to fathers long after they were extinguished. So many hundreds, no thousands of corpses pointing to the ugliness of the Nazi regime. And I have run my fingers over several tattooed numbers on the arms of survivors as well. Vintage blue stained marks that no one would inflict on themselves for any reason. I admire all the heroes who got involved in this massacre and tired to prevent or salvage some of the poor souls form being slaughtered. Thanks for an informative article~~~MFB III

    • fortunerep profile image

      fortunerep 9 years ago from North Carolina

      and to think that there are people who don't believe this happened.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Tnx for your comments!

    • profile image

      Billy 9 years ago

      outstanding hub it was so good

    • profile image

      Tiffany 9 years ago

      great hub it was outdtanding

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Irena Gut Opdyke added to short list of Holocaust heroes.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 11 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for the comments. M. Abrantes, I added a link to Amigos de Sousa Mendes.

    • profile image

      M Abrantes 11 years ago

      The Act of Conscience of Aristides de Sousa Mendes serves as a continuing example of courage and altruism in the face of a moral dilema.

      See the Amigos de Sousa Mendes

    • profile image

      Iðunn 11 years ago

      ralph, excellent hub.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 11 years ago from Scotland

      a very interesting hub ralph,i would love to know more will need to look for the book.....jimmy


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