Dr. Mohamed Helmy became the first Egyptian recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” on this date in 2013. Helmy went to Germany from Khartoum in 1922 and became a researcher at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. Defined as a “descendant of Ham” by Nazi racial policy, he was dismissed in 1937 and forbidden to marry his German partner, Annie Ernst. In 1939, Helmy was arrested in a sweep of Egyptian nationals, but he was released a year later because of health issues. Despite these persecutions, he spoke out against Nazi policies and risked his life to hide 21-year old Anna Boros, a family friend, in a cabin he owned in the Berlin neighborhood of Buch. “As of 1942,” Boros told Yad Vashem, “I no longer had any contact with the outside world. The Gestapo knew that Dr. Helmy was our family physician, and they knew that he owned a cabin in Berlin-Buch,” but he “managed to evade all their interrogations. In such cases he would bring me to friends where I would stay for several days, introducing me as his cousin from Dresden. When the danger would pass, I would return to his cabin.” Helmy also helped Boros’ mother, stepfather, and grandmother by hiding and attending to them in the home of Freida Szturmann, a German woman who was also named “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem. Helmy survived the war in Germany and married Ernst. He died in 1982.
“If it weren’t for Dr. Helmy, I would not be here today, as well as my two brothers, Charlie and Fred. In addition, between the three of us, we have seven children who wouldn’t be here as well.” —Carla, Anna Boros’ daughter