Recha Freier and Youth Aliyah

Youth Aliyah (originally called the “Committee for the Assistance of Jewish Youth”) opened its office in Berlin on this date in 1933 — the same day that Adolf Hitler took power as chancellor of Germany. “The utter senselessness of Jewish life in the Diaspora stood palpably before my eyes,” wrote Recha Freier, a poet, musician, […]

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May 11: Turning Post-War Germany into a Giant Farm

Henry Morgenthau, Jr., who operated a Christmas tree farm neighboring the New York State estate of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and became U.S. Secretary of the Treasury in 1934, was born in New York City on this date in 1891. Morgenthau was a champion of American farmers, who constituted some 25 percent of the American […]

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July 11: The Department-Store Rescuer

Wilfrid Berthold Jacob Israel, an Anglo-German businessman who owned one of the largest department stores in Berlin before World War II and used his fortune and his contacts to enable German Jews to leave Germany, was born on this date in 1899. As soon as the Nazis rose to power in 1933, Israel worked to […]

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May 19: Nicholas Winton’s Children

Nicholas Winton (Wertheim), who helped to organize the Czech kindertransport that saved 669 children, most of them Jews, from Nazism on the eve of World War II, was born to German Jewish parents, converts to Christianity, in London on this date in 1909. Winton was a London stockbroker when he was approached by a friend […]

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April 11: Jaap Penraat, Rescuer

Jaap Penraat, who rescued 406 Jews from the Nazis by smuggling them from the Netherlands to Spain on twenty separate trips, was born in Amsterdam on this date in 1911. Penraat was an interior designer, architect and sculptor who began his resistance work by forging identity papers for Jews. After he was jailed for several […]

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February 13: Righteous Gentiles in France

Three leaders in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Huguenot community in south-central France that was involved in the rescue of 5,000 souls, including some 3,000 Jews, during the Nazi occupation of their country, were arrested on this date in 1943: Pastor André Trocmé; Edouard Theis, administrator of the Cévenol School and a part-time minister; and Roger Darcissac, […]

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September 6: The Jewish Barnum

Showman Billy Rose, a nightclub owner who created the Aquacade at the 1939 World’s Fair and may well have been a secret sponsor of gun-running that helped arm the fledgling state of Israel, was born in New York on this date in 1899. Rose had a wild career, first becoming famous as America’s fastest stenographer, […]

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August 15: A Former Fascist Who Saved Thousands

Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian who posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary and saved more than thirty-five hundred Jews from destruction in the winter of 1944, died in Padua on this date in 1992. Perlasca had fought in northern Africa with Mussolini’s fascist army, and then in the Spanish Civil War for the victorious dictator […]

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