«Jewish Observer»
October 2002
5763 Cheshvan

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An exhibition commemorating the diplomats who rescued Jews during WWII has been held in the capital Museum of literature.

"At a certain moment they appeared bad diplomats but wonderful people. They gave preference to common human values over the interests of their states", - the Ambassador of State of Israel to Ukraine Anna Azari told about heroes of the exposition.

The exhibition created by the Israeli memorial museum "Yad Vashem" has already toured around half of the world telling in details about the fates of nine diplomats. The most famous rescuer of Jews among diplomats was Raul Vallenberg. In 1944 in Budapest he hid in houses-shelters nearly 15 thousand Jews and wrote out several thousand "protective certificates". He thwarted the plans to explode the Budapest ghetto on the eve of city's liberation.

A Japanese consul in Lithuania Khiune Sugikhura was the last foreign diplomat to leave Kaunas. He sealed the passports even from the window of a departing train. Despite a formal ban of the Japanese government the consul issued several thousand visas to enter the Country of rising sun.

A Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Soza Mendes also issued visas to Jews. For this he was deprived, despite 30 years of irreproachable service, of his rank and of the right to law practices. He lived out his days in poverty at the expense of the Jewish community. Only in 1995 he was awarded the highest reward of his country.

Most Jews with foreign visas failed to leave anywhere. But the seals in their passports, providing a formal protection, saved them from deportations and death camps.

- We learn about such people, unfortunately, too late, - said the Ambassador of Germany to Ukraine Ditmar Shtudemann, also present at the exhibition. - Though, diplomats had possibilities to save Jews and they made use of them. Honour and praise to them! But we shouldn't forget about ordinary citizens of Germany, Ukraine, other countries who were hiding a neighbour, friend, just a passer-by often risking their lives...

"Kievskie Vedomosti"

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