Turkish diplomats and the Shoah

will the Righteous shake Erdogan?

The Ashkelon film festival in Israel this year is dedicated to the rescues of Jews during the Nazism. Movies about Villa Emma in Italy, about the figure of Carl Luz, who rescued thousands of Jewish in Budapest, and about other events that our readers know, have been presented in that festival.

The stories of Turkish diplomats, however, were unknown. The documentary movie The Turkish Passport, that originally had to be only the story of Behic Erkin, the Ankara ambassador during the second world war, is the reconstruption of these stories. The movie tells the affairs of 20 Jews rescued from the deportation and of Turkish diplomats in Paris, Marseiile, Budapest, Prague, Hamburg and Rhodes.

These officials, independently and without coordinate efforts, took advantage of Turkey neutrality to protect Jews, giving them Turkish passports. Sometimes Turkish diplomats took Jews out of the deportation trains. One of these official was Necdet Kent, the father of Muhtar Kent, the Coca Cola Director.  

During one of these rescues some Turkish diplomats summoned the Jews and took them on some trains headed for Istanbul. In 1943-44 12 of these trains crossed Europe and took the Jews in Turkey. There were hundreds of rescues, but the number could increase determining the historical truth. In the movie we can see the families of these diplomats, the original documents and scenes that allow to reconstruct the events of that tragic times.

One of the diplomats is Righteous Among the Nations

Is also remarkable the story of Selahattin Ukumen, consul general in Rhodes, who spent six months in house arrest and has been repatriated in Turkey by Nazis for his attempt to rescue 80 Jews that were on the Island. He is the only that was punished for his bravery, and he is one of the Righteous Among the Nation of Yad Vashem.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz asked the producer of the movie Bahadir Arliel to explain the reasons of the action of the Turkish diplomats. This is the answer: “Jews needed for help and diplomats had the possibility to help them. It is a typical Turkish feature”.

But today Ankara doesn’t see the heroism of those diplomats. According to the British newspaper Guardian there would be 5.000 trials against journalists started by the Turkish authorities, in order to threaten the media. The State is now more authoritarian, seduced by the systematic application of the sharia and far from the acknowledgement of its responsibilities in the Armenian genocide of 1915. Is the memory of the Righteous a step to light the path of the government?

Don’t miss the story of the Righteous and the memory of Good

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