A friend indeed. The secret service of Lolle Smit

01-08-2010, by Craig Graham McKay,

The present essay is made available as a web contribution to public awareness and to encourage further historical research. In return, the author asks those making use of its findings, some of which are made publicly available for the first time, to acknowledge the fact by citing it as a source (title, author, web-page) in their own work.

A little video clip has been placed on YouTube to draw  in particular younger people’s attention to Smit and what he did. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyY_5bwDOMg

No historian needs to be told that truth can lie hidden in the archives for a very long time, not least in the case of that curious branch of human affairs, the activities of secret services. Indeed some facts, we may sorrowfully reflect, are destined never to emerge at all and disappear without a trace.1 But on occasion, through a combination of luck and patient investigation2, new light can be thrown on old events and a veil can finally be removed to expose what was once hidden.

So where did the story begin? I had come across Lolle Smit in the process of studying Raoul Wallenberg’s humanitarian mission to Hungary and the reasons for his apprehension and detention by the Russian authorities. As part of this project, I had reason to investigate in some detail the Swede’s contacts both in Stockholm, prior to his departure and later in Hungary itself.

In July 1944, Raoul Wallenberg had arrived in Budapest. Among his new personal acquaintances was a lively young Dutch girl called Berber (Barbara) Smit. Somewhat typically, she scarcely figures in the vast literature on Wallenberg, although her name occurs in several places in Wallenberg’s pocket diary, confiscated by the Soviet authorities and later returned to the family at a meeting in Moscow in the autumn of 1989.  More ->

Born, Friedrich

09-03-2008,

The New Delegate In Budapest

On the 10th of March 1944 Friedrich Born was appointed ICRC delegator in Budapest. Repeatedly, Born, requested that the ICRC were to expand their efforts to help. « I can´t sit still, while daily Jews are being sent do death. Please do something to helpsave them. I want to save, I want to intervene.“ > More

Baranski, Tibor

09-03-2008,

Tibor Baranski, was the right man of the Papal Nunzio Angelo Rotta issuing tens of thousands baptismal certificates to Jews . He was executive director of the Protection of Jews movement. Rotta and Baranski worked in close cooperation with Raoul Wallenberg and the Swedish Red Cross. He received an award as « a righteous gentile » from the Israeli government.
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References   [ + ]

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The International « Red Cross »

09-03-2008,

Jean de Bavier And The « Red Cross“

The Red Cross was an international organisation and was expected to help. Since 1943 Jean de Bavier was delegator for the international „Red Cross“ in Budapest. The operational circumstances were quite positive but de Bavier´s hands were tied because of the instructions from Genf. In his statements and handlings he was to remain totally neutral. He was not allowed to make any political or religious statements. > More

Lutz, Carl

09-03-2008,

Along with Wallenberg the most active person in the „Hungarian Rescue Mission“ was the Swiss Carl Lutz. On the 02.01.1942 he became head of the „Protection“ department in the Swiss Legation to Budapest. Here he represented the interests of twelve countries, who were also at war like Hungary. Carl Lutz was under very strict Swiss direction. It was not possible for him to take precedence against the deportation plans in May of 1944 > More

Mandel-Mantello, George

09-03-2008, by Christoph Gann,

Citizenship For Jews

George Mandel-Mantello was born in Rumania, into a Jewish family. In 1939 he acquired citizenship in El Salvador. In Bucarest in 1942 following transactions in the diplomatic corp., he was appointed First Secretary of General Consulate for El Salvador. Without the governments knowledge Mandel-Mantello issued thousands of citizenship certificates on Jews from Holland, Belgium, France, Poland an Checoslovacia.

Help For Hungary´s Jews

In March 1944 Mandel-Mantello set up a committee to help Hungary´s Jews. By courier or with the post the citizenship certificates were brought into their country. Switzerland intervened and took over responsibility for El Salvador´s new citizens protection. Some time later Wallenberg took over this task. Carl Lutz assumed the majority of the 5.000 Jews unter Mandel-Mantello protection had survived the war.
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References   [ + ]

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Ocksay, Laszlo

09-03-2008,

A man whom the nazis expected to be a killer, was instead the savior of more thab 2000 Hungarian Jews in the waning of World War II.
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References   [ + ]

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Giorgio Perlasca

09-03-2008,

Giorgio Perlasca In Budapest

Perlasca was a commercial traveller for an import-export-company. Following the cease fire in Italy in September 1943, he disappeared in Hungary´s underground as a hostile foreigner. In April 1944 he surrendered to the Hungarian authorities and was interned in Kékes. Despite the good conditions he escaped and succeeded in reaching Budapest in October. As former comrade in the „Spanisch Revolution“ he located the Spanish ambassador. Perlasca was wiling to provide for Spanish Protection houses and in return for this he received a diplomats pass.

Help For Hungary´s Jews

8.000 Jews were accommodated in eight Spanish protection houses. Sanz Briz, Spanisch ambassador in Hungary, left the country. Perlasca mirrored himself as Briz´s replacement. He took his inspiration from Wallenberg´s activities. Sometimes they both drove to train stations to save Jews. Approximately 5.000 lives were saved by Perlasca.

Perlascas Destiny Following Hungarian Liberation

In June 1945 Perlasca returned to Italy. He had lost all his fortunes. He remained unhounered and lived the rest of his live as a poor man. Forty years later he was recognised for his good work. Perlasca remained a modest man up to his death in August 1992.

« What magnificient things did I accomplish?

Above all, I told a great deals of lies.“;

References   [ + ]

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Rotta, Angelo

09-03-2008,

Rotta´s Protest Against Measures Taken Against Jews

Angelo Rotta was Papal Nuncio in Budapest. By March 1944 he had urgently requested the prime minister to make a statement. In the following months Rotta, under Vatican direction, protested against the merciless measures carried out on the Jews. On the 24th of April, Rotta got in contact with the special ambassador Arnóthy Jungerth and notified him: … „The Holy Father deeply regrets the occurrances. He recognizes that also Hungary, a land in which he has always been proud of, which belongs to the „Christian“ countries, has taken another direction, thus creating conflict with Evangelist teachings.“On the 15th of May the Hungarian government was presented with a very significant written protest. > More

Introduction to the Rescue in Budapest

09-03-2008, by Visa for Life ,

Between May 14 and July 8, 1944, 437,402 Hungarian Jewish men, women and children were transported to the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  It took 148 trains to carry them.  More than 90% of the Jews were gassed immediately upon arrival.  By July 9, 1944, only 230,000 Jews survived in Budapest.

> More