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ICRC in WW II: Friedrich Born, "Righteous Among the Nations"

04-02-2005

Friedrich Born's single-handed attempts to save Jews in Hungary were recognized after his death by the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem.

   

©ICRC/Ref. hist-976/20 
 
Friedrich Born, who served as an ICRC delegate in Hungary (1944-1945). 
     

On 5 June 1987, the management of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem organized a ceremony during which a tree was planted in memory of Friedrich Born. On this occasion, on behalf of Yad Vashem, Mr Baruck Sharoni delivered the following speech:

" I see it as an outstanding privilege to have been entrusted with the task to investigate, interview people and examine documents, in order to reach a conclusion as to whether the man Friedrich Born, the authorized representative of the Internati onal Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Budapest at those times of fright and horror for Hungarian Jewry, is worthy of the title'Righteous among the Nations'.

" We are referring to the period of March 1944, the time of the German invasion of Hungary, followed by the arrival of Adolf Eichmann and his gang, who were determined to solve the'Jewish question'in Hungary by means of deporting its half million Jews to Auschwitz and their annihilation.
 
" Indeed, I interviewed a number of trustworthy people who were active in Hungary at the time and live today in Israel. I spent many hours with advocate Arieh Ben-Tov, whose Ph.D. thesis is an important contribution towards the understanding of the period in question and of the activity of Friedrich Born in Hungary.
 
" I reached the definitive and inevitable conclusion that Friedrich Born is worthy of this outstanding title. He had the courage to face the Hungarian rulers and the representatives of Nazi Germany in Budapest and firmly demanded that the deportations be cancelled. This goal he did not achieve. The motive of his endeavours were simple humane feelings, not his superiors'instructions, which, on the contrary, were sometimes far from this spirit (...)
 
" I now wish to address the young pupils of the School of Arts in Tel Aviv, whom I invited to join us on this important occasion.
 
" We brought you here, my young friends, in order that you may know that not only cruelty and ruthlessness reigned in those days. There were others too, noble and wonderful people, who risked their own lives and the lives of their families in order to save. True, their number is small, compared with the millions who cooperated with the Nazis in the annihilation of our people, and with the tens of millions who remained indifferent and, keeping silent, played not a minor role in the carrying out of the Final Solution.
 
" There were no more than 7,000 in number on the whole, but today, being present at the ceremony of the unveiling of the monument for the'Righteous among the Nations'who remained unknown, you surely understood that there must have been many others, whose names are not yet known and will apparently remain unknown forever. Thanks to those few thousands, our belief in mankind has been restored. Indeed, not everyone stood against us then, as well as today, when not the whole world is opposing us.
 
" It is for me a great privilege today to conduct this impressive ceremony and to welcome amongst us the daughter and the son of the new'Righteous among the Nations', Friedrich Born, as well as the senior representative of the ICRC, Mr Jacques Moreillon, who honoured us with his presence. "
 
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