Winning a war, or at least standing up against the terrors of the enemies, takes an effort of the soldiers sent to fight, the government, and brave individual souls. Despite the dangers and fear, these brave individuals decided to stand in the crowd and do what they could to help the others. Some fought quietly, doing their thing in the background, while others were more vocal and visible in showing their dislikes. That’s exactly what these people did at the time when Hitler’s party decided to take over Europe and control them with fear and violence. In those darkest times, that’s when the light of humanity shone the most.

Carl Lutz

Words are power, so as they say.

Instead of weapons, that was what Carl Lutz used to help Jews and save as many as he could from the Holocaust. He was a Swiss diplomat who was appointed as chancellor at the Swiss Consulate in Philadelphia in 1926. In January 1935, he was assigned as vice-consul to the Swiss Consulate General in Jaffa, where he and his wife once saw how a mob of Arabs lynched a Jew.

Carl Lutz, 1943. (FOTO:FORTEPAN / Archiv für Zeitgeschichte ETH Zürich / Agnes HirschiCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

He began cooperating with the Jewish Agency for Israel when he was appointed as Swiss vice-consul in Budapest. Lutz worked by issuing official Swiss protection documents that allowed almost 10,000 Hungarian Jewish children to emigrate.

When the Nazis began sending Jews to the death camps, he negotiated a special deal with the Hungarian government and the Nazis to permit him to again issue protective letters to about 7,800 Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Palestine. Instead of using the permit to 7,800 individuals, he applied them to 7,800 families instead, thus issuing thousands more of the protective letters, although they’re all numbered from one to 7,800, and not more. Apart from that, Lutz set up some 76 “safe houses” that were off-limits to both the Hungarian forces and the Nazis, declaring them as annexes of the Swiss legation, just like the Glass House at Vadasz Street 29.

Lutz worked tirelessly with the support of his wife and other diplomats of neutral countries like Raoul Wallenberg, Carlos de Liz-Texeira Branquinho, Sampaio Garrido, and others.

Johan van Hulst

Johan van Hulst speaking in the Senate (Harry Pot / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The year Germany invaded Amsterdam in 1940, Johan van Hulst became the deputy principal of the Reformed Teachers’ Training College. There, he began by helping turn the school into an anti-Nazi site and a shelter for Dutch teachers who rejected signing the oath of loyalty to Germany, which was required of Dutch university students. Their school was across the street from a theater that was turned into a deportation center for Jews. Children were taken from their parents and sent to that daycare facility. Together with the nursery’s workers, van Hulst helped smuggle these children out of the city, meant to be hidden for the rest of the war.

What they did was these children were passed over a hedge to them, held in classrooms, and then hidden in baskets and sacks to be cycled to the countryside. The German-Jew record-keeper whose name was Walter Suskind, who was assigned at the deportation center, would then erase the smuggled children’s names from the official records. They did that until 1943, up to the time when the daycare center was closed, and its Jewish director was sent to Auschwitz, along with 100 children. All in all, their operation saved between 500 and 1000 Jewish babies and children.