When we think about the heroes of the Holocaust, names like Schindler and Wallenberg come to mind.
But very few people know about Swiss bureaucrat Carl Lutz, despite the fact that he orchestrated the largest civilian rescue of Jewish people during World War 2.
Lutz helped more than 60,000 Hungarian Jews escape the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, and a University of Victoria researcher is about to shed light on his work.
A personal connection to the story
According to a CBC news report, Charlotte Schallié is an associate professor in Germanic and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria, and lost her own grandmother at Auschwitz.
Schallié’s research is presented in her book, Under Swiss Protection:Jewish Eyewitness Accounts from Wartime Budapest, which is co-edited by Lutz’s stepdaughter, Agnes Hirschi.
Lutz’s story will be shared at a talk at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in Switzerland on November 27th.
All of the lives he saved
Between 1942 and 1944, Lutz got over 10,000 Jewish children to safety by transporting them to Palestine.
He arranged for another 8,000 Jews to get authorization to travel to Palestine, and then practically doubled that number by interpreting each certificate to be applicable for a family instead of just an individual.
During the Nazi occupation in Hungary, Lutz was also responsible for setting up 76 safe houses for people issuing protective letters for Jewish people. One of these safe houses also provided shelter for about 3,000 Jews.
Lack of recognition even in his own country
Despite saving countless lives, Carl Lutz is not a household name even in his own country.
According to his step-daughter, Lutz was penalized for violating Swiss neutrality, and was not given any official thanks or recognition from his government until 20 years after his death.
UVic professor Charlotte Schallié grew up in Switzerland without knowing anything about him, and only found out about what he did after coming across a monument of Lutz in Budapest.