“The Iranian Schindler”: Abdol-Hossein Sardari’s Fight to Save the Iranian Jews of Occupied France — Ajam Media Collective com
A new, exciting book on Iranian Jewry is making lower-tier headlines in Israel, the UK, France and even Turkey. Awareness of the work’s central figure, Abdol-Hossein Sardari, is traceable within English-language media since at least 2004 when he was recognized in a memorial by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and he inspired a fictionalized TV drama in Iran in 2007. However, the recently debuted “In the Lion’s Shadow: The Iranian Schindler and His Homeland in the Second World War”, written by political scientist Fariborz Mokhtari, appears to be the first book-length work on Sardari published in English.
So what is the story of Abdol-Hossein Sardari? Author Mokhtari paints him as a principled socialite who enjoyed the finer things in life and threw lavish parties for the Nazi officials as neutral Iran’s consul in occupied Paris– making friends in the right places for calling in favors later. Many of these favors were requested by Sardari on behalf of Jewish friends: not only for the Iranian citizens who were his legitimate responsibility, but also for their non-Iranian spouses, friends and coworkers, who were often surreptitiously granted Iranian passports from Sardari’s stash of blank documents at the embassy.
But how did Iranian Jews escape Nazi harassment in France without fleeing back to their own country? Sardari sought to use the Nazis’ own racialist ideology against them, wholeheartedly embracing the Aryan-race identity for Iranians to staunchly argue that Iranian Jews were not “Jews by blood,” but rather Aryan Iranians who followed the “Mosaique religion” (ie, the religion of Moses). Thus, he maintained, Iranian Jews were not members of the “European Jewish” race and should not be subject to Nazi Jewish policies.
Similar arguments were made regarding the Jews of Afghanistan and the Caucasus– these were not racially Jewish, but Aryans who had over the course of history converted to a Judaism-like religion while retaining otherwise Aryan social, cultural and linguistic traits. For example, Sardari insisted, Iranian Jews celebrated Iranian holidays like Norouz, spoke only Persian and no Hebrew (probably a slight exaggeration), had Persian names, and were in most ways indistinguishable from other Iranians.
Iranian Jewish family in wartime France
The local Nazi officials were either convinced or confused (or both) but generally left the Iranian Jews alone as they attempted to consult academics and higher-ups in Germany for further instructions. In “In The Lion’s Shadow,” Mokhtari reproduces in full Sardari’s memos to the Nazis, detailing the rationale for his dramatic claims. Ultimately, many of them were skeptical and insisted that the category of “Mosaic Aryans” that Sardari had called “Djuguti” were in fact Jews and therefore subject to the Jewish policies. Eichmann, a major architect of the Holocaust, himself declared Sardari’s claims to be nothing more than another “clever Jewish trick.”
Yet Sardari’s repeated assertions to the contrary provoked a tedious cycling of Nazi official requests for anthropological information and academic investigation meant that many Jews with Iranian passports were able to dodge the Nazi policies long enough to leave occupied France or even for the duration of the war.
Adding to Sardari’s heroism is the fact that he continued these activities after 1941, when the Allied invasion of Iran and Iran’s loss of neutral status meant that Sardari’s diplomatic immunity evaporated. Although he was recalled by Iran from France, at the pleading of his friends he refused to leave and remained in Paris at risk to his own safety and freedom. Yet perhaps predictably, his deeds were not well-rewarded after the war.
Sardari is not currently listed in Yad Vashem’s “Righteous Among the Nations” and was only recently added as an entry to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s “Holocaust Encyclopedia,” but within the past decade he has become a well-known figure in his home country.
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The Book, ‘In the Lion’s Shadow’: The Iranian Schindler and His Homeland in the Second World War Paperback – April 1, 2012
The astonishing story of a brave Iranian diplomat who saved many Jewish lives in World War II—acutely relevant to Iranian-Israeli relations today
After the invasion of France in 1940 a junior Iranian diplomat, the aristocratic Abdol-Hossein Sardari, found himself in charge of Iran’s legation in Paris, and set about cultivating German and Vichy officials in order to protect the Iranian Jewish community in the country. He met the racial purity laws head-on, claiming that despite the fact that some Iranians had followed the teachings of Moses for thousands of years, they had always been of Iranian stock and therefore were “Mosai
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Western medias on ‘Muslim Schindler’
Beating the Nazis at their own game — The Times of Israel com
Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat stationed in Paris, saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust by convincing the Germans that Persian Jews weren’t Semites. In fact, he argued, they were good Aryans – just like the Germans themselves
Abdol Hossein Sardari, the “Iranian Schindler”
Sardari’s plan actually worked. When Jews were forced to wear the yellow Star of David, a directive was issued that Iranian Jews should be exempt. In addition, Sardari gave out between 500 and 1,000 Iranian passports, without the consent of his superiors. This saved 2,000 to 3,000 Jewish lives, as passports were issued for entire families.
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Die orientalischen Schindlers — Autor: Emran Feroz in Das Mili Eu (In German language)
Im Zweiten Weltkrieg haben auch Muslime viele Juden vor der Deportation gerettet – mit großer List und unter Einsatz ihres Lebens. Doch ihre Taten sind in Vergessenheit geraten. Eine Erinnerung aus aktuellem Anlass.
Der Nahostkonflikt wird gern als Religionskrieg bezeichnet, das ist aber nur ein Aspekt der Sache. Denn Juden und Muslime konnten durchaus immer wieder und für lange Zeit friedlich zusammenleben, und zwar sowohl im Orient wie im Okzident. Bloß sind die Beispiele für friedliche Koexistenz oder sogar gegenseitige Hilfe weit weniger bekannt als jene, die angeblich den ewigen Kampf der Kulturen belegen.
Während der Zeit des nationalsozialistischen Rassenwahns riskierten manche Muslime ihr Leben, um Juden zu retten. Doch ihre Taten gerieten in Vergessenheit. Ein solcher Fall ereignete sich an der großen Moschee in Paris. Die „Grande Mosquée de Paris“ wurde 1926 eröffnet und zählt wohl zu den schönsten islamischen Gotteshäusern Europas. Sie gilt als Zeichen des Dankes Frankreichs an jene Muslime, die bei den „Tirailleurs“, den kolonialen Hilfstruppen, gegen das Deutsche Reich kämpften. Damals starben 70.000 Muslime unter französischer Flagge.
The “Muslim Schindler” — New Statesman com
Jewish, Muslim and Christian clergymen participate in the blessing of an ecumenical chapel at Poland’s new national stadium in Warsaw. Photo: Getty Images
Abdol-Hossein Sardari, second from right, was left in charge of the Iranian legation in Paris when the embassy was moved to Vichy.
The Iranian Schindler: How thousands of Iranian Jews in America owe their lives to Paris diplomat — DailyMail UK
Arab rescue efforts during the Holocaust — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A number of Arabs participated in efforts to help save Jewish residents of Arab lands from the Holocaust while fascist regimes controlled the territory. From June 1940 through May 1943, Axis powers, namely Germany and Italy, controlled large portions of North Africa. Approximately 1 percent of the Jewish residents, about 4,000 to 5,000 Jews, of that territory were murdered by these regimes during this period. The relatively small percentage of Jewish casualties, as compared to the 50 percent of European Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, is largely due to the successful Allied North African Campaign and the repelling of the Axis powers from North Africa. No occupied country, in Africa or Europe, was free of collaboration with the genocide campaign against the Jews, but this was more common in European countries than Arab ones. The offer made to Algerians by colonial French officials to take over confiscated Jewish property found many French settlers ready to profit from the scheme, but no Arab participated and, in the capital, Algiers itself, Muslim clerics openly declared their opposition to the idea. While some Arabs collaborated with the Axis powers by working as guards in labor camps, others risked their own lives to attempt to save Jews from persecution and genocide.
Arab rescue efforts were not limited to the Middle East – Si Kaddour Benghabrit, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, helped 100 Jews disguise themselves as Muslims. There are examples of non-Arab Muslim populations assisting Jews to escape from the Holocaust in Europe, in Albania for example. In September 2013, Yad Vashem declared an Egyptian doctor, Mohammed Helmy, one of the Righteous Among the Nations for saving the life of Anna Gutman (née Boros), putting himself at personal risk for three years, and for helping her mother Julie, her gradmother Cecilie Rudnik, and her stepfather Georg Wehr, to survive the holocaust. Helmy is the first Arab to have been so honoured.
- 1 In the Middle East
- 2 Muslim rescue efforts in Europe
- 3 References
- 4 External links
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The Hollywood film on German Schindler: Schindler’s List on Wikipedia org
Theatrical release poster
Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic historical drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and scripted by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist. The film is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as Schutzstaffel (SS) officer Amon Goeth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.
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