Eighteen Spanish diplomats were honored today in Jerusalem for their help to Jews persecuted by the Nazis, at the opening of the exhibition "Beyond Duty: The Humanitarian Response of the Spanish Foreign Service in the Holocaust."
The exhibition was inaugurated today at the Hebrew University in the framework of the XX Congress of Hispanists by the Spanish Ambassador to Israel, Manuel Gómez-Acebo, the General Director of Casa Sefarad, Miguel de Lucas, the curator, José Antonio Lisbona and Juan Carlos Sanz Briz, son of one of the diplomats, who holds the Israeli honorary title of "Righteous Among the Nations."
De Lucas explained in the presentation how the process of restoring the memory of these diplomats "who decided not to pass by in the face of human suffering" has led to celebrate acts of homage every several months, or to seek the grave of one of them, Sebastián Romero Radigals, to which stones were brought from the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum (Yad Vashem).
The diplomats acted "guided only by their conscience, without consulting their government and sometimes against the position of their government, they risked their lives and their careers," explains Lisbona.
The 18 recognized here gave documents of protection, released from jails and camps, provided hiding places and facilitated the expatriation of thousands of Jews, moved by different ends, "some for the protection of their nationals as a legal principle, others for a matter of patriotic pride , others for their deep Christian beliefs and, above all, humanists, some deep admiration for the Sephardic world ".
Juan Carlos Sanz, son of one of the diplomats, Ángel Sanz Briz, explained to the audience what his father did, stationed in Budapest as first secretary.
"When Hitler invaded Hungary (…) General Franco withdrew the Spanish ambassador and my father, aged 34, had a newborn daughter and another on the way, he became responsible for the Spanish delegation … Little by little, he witnessed all the atrocities and injustices to which Hitler submits to the Jewish community in Budapest and informs Madrid asking for instructions on how to proceed, "he says.
The Foreign Ministry does not answer, because he "decides to act very bravely and make every effort to save as many Jews as possible with very small resources."
In addition to providing protection documents to hundreds of Hungarian Jews, who end up protecting 5,200 people, they rent eleven buildings to shelter them.
"Place a Spanish flag in each building and signs indicating that they are annexed to the Spanish embassy, so that the Nazis could not enter and remove the refugees there." That a diplomat dared to do such a thing without permission from his government was difficult He exceeded himself enormously, and that was a tremendously legalistic person, but on that occasion, he saw that it was much more important not to be, even to skip the rules, to save many innocent lives. "
"Today it is estimated that some 50,000 people lived or have lived thanks to the humanitarian work of Angel Sanz Briz, the angel of Budapest, the cause was worth it," reflects his son.
(tagsToTranslate) Exposure (t) Jerusalem (t) diplomatics (t) saved (t) Holocaust