Mexican diplomat Gilberto Bosques Salvidar, who saved tens of thousands of Jews from deportation to Nazi Germany or Spain during World War II, died at 102 on this date in 1995. Bosques was a fighter in the Mexican Revolution (1910-20) and worked as a journalist and then a leftist legislator under President Lazaro Cardenas, who appointed him Consul General in Paris in 1939. Bosques transferred his operation to Marseilles after Paris fell to the Nazis. He rented two castles there to house Jews and other refugees, including leaders of the Spanish Republic who had been defeated by Franco’s fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In the course of two years, Bosques issued nearly 40,000 visas and chartered ships to take refugees to various African nations, from which they eventually migrated to Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. The Mexican consul also provided material assistance to the anti-Nazi undergrounds in France, Italy, Yugoslavia and Austria. He was arrested with his family and other consular staff by the Gestapo in 1942 and held in Germany for a year, until Mexico arrested German nationals and then negotiated for a prisoner exchange. After the war, Bosques served as Mexican ambassador in Portugal, Spain, Finland, Sweden, and Cuba, where he became personal friends with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. This equipped him to played a role facilitating communication between the U.S. and the USSR during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as he was trusted by both sides. For a biographical Spanish-language video about Salvidar (with brief footage of the Spanish Civil War), click here. For a short English-language article that includes a description of his rescue work by Bosques himself, click here.
“I implemented my country’s policy, a policy of help, of material and moral support to the the heroic defenders of the Spanish Republic, to the relentless brave people who fought against Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Petain and Laval.” —Gilberto Bosques Salvidar