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Holocaust exhibition honours Swiss diplomat

Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz is being honoured for saving the lives of Jews during the Second World War. Yad Vashem

A photographic exhibition dedicated to Carl Lutz, the Swiss diplomat who saved the lives of 62,000 Hungarian Jews, has opened in Jerusalem.

Entitled “Visas for Life: Carl Lutz and the rescue of 62,000 Jews from Budapest”, the exhibition charts the different methods employed by the Swiss to stop Jews from being sent to Nazi death camps.

Lutz, who died in 1975, was the first Swiss to be honoured with the title, “Righteous Among the Nations”, by the Yad Vashem Holocaust foundation in Jerusalem.

Appointed vice-consul to the Swiss Legation in Budapest in 1942, Lutz was charged with looking after British and American interests in Hungary. In this role, the Swiss diplomat issued 10,000 entry visas to Palestine.

Letters of protection

When deportations to Auschwitz from Hungary began in May 1944, Lutz placed the entire staff of the Jewish Council for Palestine under Swiss diplomatic protection. He then went on to issue “letters of protection” to 62,000 Hungarian Jews, who were living in 76 buildings across Budapest.

At least ten people who owe the Swiss diplomat their life were among the guests at the opening of the exhibition at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

One of them, Avraham Shavit, a former adviser to the Israeli justice minister, spoke movingly of Lutz’s work in saving the lives of so many people. The exhibition runs until February 28.

The event was also attended by Claude Altermatt, chargé d’affaires at the Swiss embassy in Tel Aviv, and Jànos Hovari, the Hungarian ambassador.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR