This topic was originally covered by a former Liberal America writer. It’s been completely rewritten as fresh content, with better sources, for easier reading. Enjoy!
Just a quick list, but a good reminder, especially important at this time as popular and accepted right wing rhetoric is targeting Muslims.
1. Behic Erkin, Turkish ambassador to Paris
The Turkish Ambassador in Paris, France, he saved the lives of thousands of Jews by providing citizenship documents and passports, then arranged forthem to leave safely.
2. Necdet Kent, the Turkish consul-general in Marseille
Working with Behec Erkin, Necdet Kent also saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis. In one incident, he heard that German troops has loaded 80 Turkish Jews onto a train in Marseille and that they were headed to a concentration camp. He ordered the Gestapo to release them and the Nazis refused so he boarded the train himself and rode with them to the next stop, where a German soldier boarded and apologized for Kent for making him ride with Jews, explaining that he had a car waiting to transport him back to Marseille. Kent shocked the German by saying that the mistake was that there were Turkish citizens on the train.
“I explained to them that there was no question of a mistake, that more than 80 Turkish citizens had been loaded onto these animal wagons because they were Jews, and that I was a representative of a government that rejected such treatment.”
The shocked German let everyone off the train.
Kent is mentioned in this video:
3. Abdol-Hossein Sardari, Iranian Consul General to Paris
Known as the Muslim Oscar Schindler, Abdol-Hossein Sardari used German racial purity laws to the benefit of Iranian citizens and Jews who weren’t even Iranian. The laws said that Iran was an Aryan nation, so therefore Sardari argued and convinced the Nazis that of course Iranian Jews were Aryan. He basically said that Jews from Iran had different ancestral roots from European Jews. His ingenuity saved Iranian Jews from extermination. But he took it a step further by issuing Iranian passports to Jews who weren’t Iranian and organizing their safe passage from occupied France. When Britain and Russia invaded Iran in 1941, Tehran officials ordered Sardari to return home to Iran. They stopped all funding that was going to the consulate. But Sardari absolutely refused to leave, staying and using his personal inheritance to run the consulate and help families escape extermination.
Here’s a video about Sardari.
She was born to Indian royalty but raised in Britain and Paris. Fully bilingual, Khan joined British armed forces after she fled Paris during the Nazi invasion. She was recruited to work in Paris as a wireless operator in 1942 by Sir. Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), the first female wire operator ever sent to Nazi-occupied France. She did work that supported the French Underground while England prepared for the D-Day invasions. Khan was captured by the Gestapo in October 1943 and was eventually sent to Dachau and killed in 1944.
Here’s a shocking video about the execution of Khan — it wasn’t pretty.