May 20, 2016
- El Salvador Diplomat Saved Tens of Thousands of Jews from Nazi Persecution
Jose Arturo Castellanos, an army colonel who served as El Salvador’s consul general in Geneva, helped save tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II by providing them with false Salvadoran identity papers. Castellanos, who was recognized posthumously as Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli Holocaust memorial and museum Yad Vashem in 2010, was honored last week by Germany’s Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Berlin Jewish Center.
During World War II, Castellanos befriended George Mandel, a Hungarian-Jewish businessman whom he appointed as the consulate’s first secretary, a fictitious title. They issued passports or visas identifying thousands of European Jews as citizens of El Salvador. At least 25,000 Jews were saved due to these efforts. (JTA)