University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Diplomats Who Saved Jews

Per Anger
Swedish Chargé d'Affaires in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Per Anger worked with Raoul Wallenberg in the Swedish Embassy. He personally intervened on behalf of Jews being deported to the Nazi death camps. On other occasions, Anger rescued Jews from Nazi death marches leaving Budapest. He is credited with saving thousands of Jews, from the spring of 1944 until the end of the war in May 1945.

Hiram Bingham
US Vice Consul in Marseilles, France, 1940

Hiram Bingham was the American Vice Consul in charge of visas stationed in Marseilles, France, in 1940. Against orders and US policy, Bingham issued visas, safe passes, and letters of transit to Jewish refugees to protect them from internment and deportation. Working closely with Varian Fry, of the Emergency Rescue Committee, Bingham was, in part, responsible for saving more than 2,000 Jews, including the artist Marc Chagall.

Friedrich Born
Chief Delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross of Switzerland in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

From May 1944 to January 1945, Born issued thousands of Red Cross letters of protection to Jews in Budapest. He saved thousands of Jews from deportation camps and death marches. He put over 60 Jewish institutions under Red Cross protection, housed over 7,000 Jewish children and orphans, and set up dozens of Red Cross protected houses. He is credited with rescuing more than 10,000 Jews in Budapest.

Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz
Trade Attaché to the German Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1943

A member of the Nazi party, Duckwitz was sent as a Trim Attache to the German Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. When Duckwitz learned that the Nazi occupying government was planning to deport Danish Jews, he alerted the Danish government and made a clandestine trip to Sweden to arrange a safe haven for the Jews. The Danish underground in turn implemented the rescue of more than 7,000 Danish Jews. As a result, 99% of Danish Jews were hidden in neutral Sweden, where they survived the war.

Frank Foley
British Vice Consul in Charge of Visas in Berlin, 1938-39

Frank Foley was a passport officer in the British Embassy  in Berlin from 1923 to 1939. He also worked as an M16 agent. Jewish officials estimate that he issued thousands of visas to Jewish refugees between 1938 and 1939, at a time when the British government was anxious to limit immigration, particularly to Palestine.

Dr. Feng Shan Ho
Consul General of China in Vienna, 1938-39

Feng Shan Ho defied direct orders and issued innumerable visas to Jews escaping the Nazi occupation of Austria after the Anschluss of 1938. This enabled Jewish refugees to escape from Austria to the United States, Canada, South America, Palestine, the Philippines and Shanghai, China. Many Jews were released from concentration camps on the strength of the Chinese visas.

Paul Komor
Honorary Consul for Hungary in Shanghai, China, 1938-1941

Paul Komor held the title of Honorary Consul General for Hungary in Shanghai. In 1938, he co-founded the International Committee for European Immigrants (IC). The IC provided housing, jobs and financial assistance for the 18,000 Austrian, German and other Jewish refugees who came into Shanghai. The IC also issued international passports to Jews whose passports were confiscated or lost, allowing them to emigrate to the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

Carl Lutz
Consul for Switzerland in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Carl Lutz is credited with inventing the Schutzbrief (protective letter) for Jewish refugees in Budapest. With these protective letters, he rescued 10,000 Jewish children who were sent to Palestine. He also helped establish 76 safe houses. Consul Lutz and his wife, Gertrud, liberated Jews from labor camps, deportation centers, and death marches. Lutz is credited with saving more than 50,000 Jews.

Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes
Portuguese Consul General in Bordeaux, France, June 1940

Aristides De Sousa Mendes was the Consul General in Bordeaux, France. He issued more than 30,000 lifesaving Portuguese visas to Jews and other refugees. Ten thousand were for Jews and 20,000 were for other refugees. Mendes saved the entire royal Habsburg family, including the Empress Zita. In addition, he saved the entire Belgian cabinet in exile. Mendes also guaranteed safe passage for hundreds of Jewish refugees across a border checkpoint on the Spanish Frontier. These activities were carried out against the orders and policies of his government. He was fired by his government and lost all of his property.

Giorgio "Jorge" Perlasca
"Acting Chargé d'Affaires" of the Spanish Legation, Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian, is credited with saving more than 3,000 Jewish refugees in Budapest. Perlasca volunteered to assist the Spanish legation's efforts to rescue Jews in Budapest. When the Spanish legation closed, Perlasca appointed himself "Spanish Ambassador" and issued thousands of protective passes. Nazi officials accepted his authority.

Pio Perucchi and Candido Porta
Swiss Consular Officers in Milan, 1938-39

Pio Perucchi and Candido Porta, Swiss consular officials stationed in Milan in 1938, issued more than 1,600 illegal and unauthorized visas to Jews who had fled Austria after the Anschluss. The two Consuls issued visas against the specific regulations and policies of the Swiss government. For their activities, Perucchi was transferred and Porta was demoted.

Archbishop Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli
Papal Nuncio (Ambassador) in Istanbul, Turkey, 1943-45

Archbishop Roncalli, who later became Pope John XXIII, interceded with King Boris of Bulgaria on behalf of the Bulgarian Jews, and with the Turkish government on behalf of the Jews who fled to Turkey. He also did his utmost to prevent the deportation of Greek Jews. Roncalli provided reports to the Vatican about the annihilation of millions of Jews in Poland and Eastern Europe.

Monsignor Angelo Rotta
Italy, Papal Nuncio (Ambassador) in Budapest, 1944-45

As a member of the Vatican Diplomatic Corps in Sofia Bulgaria, Rotta saved Bulgarian Jews by issuing false baptismal certificates and visas for Palestine. In Budapest, he actively protested the deportation and, murder of Hungarian Jews. He issued more than 15,000 safe conduct certificates and issued hundreds of baptism certificates to Jews in labor camps, at deportation  and on the death marches.

Chiune Sugihara
Consul for Japan in Kovno, Lithuania, 1940

In July and August 1940, Sugihara issued Japanese visa to thousands of Polish Jews in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. He issued the visas against the orders of his government. Numerous refugees escaped to Japan and other countries. About 1,000 refugees survived the war in Shanghai, China. In 1947, Sugihara believed he was forced to resign from the Japanese diplomatic service for his actions in Lithuania.

Selahattin Ülkümen
Turkish Consul General in Rhodes, July 1944

In July 1944, the Germans began rounding up the Jews of Rhodes. The Turkish Consul General, Selahattin Ülkümen, interceded on behalf of those Jews who were Turkish nationals. By his efforts, 42 Jewish families, totaling more than 200 Jews, were set free from the deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In reprisal, the Nazi authorities bombed Ülkümen's house, fatally injuring his pregnant wife.

Raoul Wallenberg
Swedish Special Envoy in Budapest, Hungary, 1944-45

Raoul Wallenberg issued Swedish diplomatic papers to more than 30,000 Hungarian Jews, preventing their deportation and murder. With his staff of Jewish volunteers, Wallenberg rescued thousands of Jews who were being forced on death marches. He also established dozens of safe houses throughout Budapest. In January 1945, Raoul Wallenberg was arrested by the Russians and disappeared.

Jan Zwartendijk
Acting Dutch Consul in Kovno, Lithuania, 1940

Zwartendijk was the honorary Dutch Consul in Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. He is credited with devising and pioneering the use of the "Curacao visa" in early July 1940. Along with Sugihara, he issued end visas to the destinations of Curacao and Surinam. He is credited with saving thousands of lives.

Prepared by Eric Saul of the Visa for Life: The Righteous Diplomats Project

Additional Reading

Bierman, John. Righteous Gentile: The Story of Raoul Wallenberg, Missing Hero of the Holocaust New York: Viking Press, 1981.

Ho, Feng Shan. Forty Years of My Diplomatic Life Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1991 (in Chinese only).

Levine, Hillel.  In Search of Sugihara: The Elusive Japanese Diplomat Who Risked His Life to Rescue 10, 000 Jews From the Holocaust  New York: Free Press, 1996.

Skoglund, Elizabeth. A Quiet Courage: Per Anger, Wallenberg's Co-liberator of Hungarian Jews  Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997.

Smith, Michael. Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews  London: Hodder and Stoughten, 1999.

Wallenberg, Raoul.  Letters and Dispatches: 1924-1944  New York: Arcade Publishing, 1995 (trans. Kjersti Board).