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August 5, 2022 11:54 am
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New Project Spotlights World War II-Era Diplomats Who Saved Thousands of Jews During Holocaust

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Michael King, center, and Sir Martin Gilbert, left, filming “The Rescuers.” Photo: Provided.

A new project currently filming throughout Europe and Israel aims to document the stories of non-Jewish diplomats who defied orders and saved hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Nazis during World War II.

“The Rescuers — Last-Chance Project” follows the 2011 movie “The Rescuers,” in which Rwandan anti-genocide activist Stephanie Nyombayire and the late British historian Sir Martin Gilbert traveled across three continents interviewing relatives of diplomats who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, and the survivors saved by their efforts. The diplomats were all recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” for risking their lives to save Jews.

The testimonies were recorded and added to the Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection, the world’s largest known World War II historical film compilation dedicated to testimonies about diplomats honored as “Righteous Among the Nations.” The collection was integrated into the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.

Emmy-winning director Michael King, who directed the 2011 film, is now expanding the initial project by tracking down people who knew 32 additional “Righteous Among the Nations” diplomats, as well as survivors rescued because of their efforts. The goal is to add their stories to the Mandell collection.

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“The Rescuers — Last-Chance Project” will focus on diplomats from Brazil, Ecuador, China, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, El Salvador, Peru, Poland, Portugal and Romania. King and his team recently concluded filming in Israel and are currently shooting in Europe, including the Swedish capital of Stockholm, The Algemeiner has learned.

The research project is being developed, researched and produced by King with help from historian Alexa D. Potter, the USC Shoah Foundation and the Andrew J. and Joyce D. Mandell Family Foundation.

“Using their influence and many times producing official documents such as passports and visas, there were diplomats who enabled individuals and families to flee the onset of the German government’s proclamation to kill Jews wherever they could be located,” Joyce Mandell recently told the Hartford Courant.

The new project is “a race against time,” said King. “Our last chance to document first-hand accounts related to diplomats who were at the center of the 20th century’s most unforgettable events.”

“The Rescuers” was nominated in the outstanding documentary category at the NAACP Image Awards in 2011. It was inspired by Gilbert’s work and his 2003 book “The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust.”

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