Arab Hero Receives Israeli Holocaust Museum Award

Egyptian Dr. Mohamed Helmy was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by the Israeli Holocaust Museum of Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the Holocaust. 

al-monitor The conical ceiling of the Hall of Names is pictured at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, March 22, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Jason Reed.
Jacky Hugi

Jacky Hugi


Topics covered

recognition, jews, israel, humanitarian assistance, egypt, award

Oct 16, 2013

Every delay is for the best, says the Arab proverb, but Egyptian Dr. Mohamed Helmy would have likely been happy to have been recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" in his lifetime. Helmy died 31 years ago, and only recently — thanks to documents found in an archive in Germany — was it revealed how he saved Jews during World War II. Perhaps there's comfort in the belated revelation. Helmy is the first and only Arab who has received this recognition so far.

Coincidentally, this recognition comes 40 years after the October 1973 War and at a time when the cooperation between the Israeli and Egyptian governments is growing stronger. The recognition of the good doctor, even for deeds that occurred in a different reality, provides a warm note for the relations between the two neighbors.

Helmy was born in Khartoum, Sudan, to Egyptian parents in 1901. When he was 21, he traveled to Germany to study medicine. At the end of his studies, he settled in Berlin. He personally experienced the Nazi regime's tyranny, even before the outbreak of World War II. Because of his background and his criticism of the Nazis he was fired from the public hospital where he worked and prohibited from marrying his German fiancee. For the Gestapo, he was a “marked” man.

With the beginning of the deportation of Berlin’s Jews to the concentration camps, a Jewish acquaintance asked him to shelter her at his home. This was Anna Boros, a 21-year-old patient whose family was friendly with him. Helmy sheltered her at a cabin he owned in Berlin from March 1942 until the end of the war. Along with her, he hid her mother Julia and her second husband George Wehr, and her grandmother, Cecille Rudnik. When the Wehr couple was captured and revealed the name of their protector, Helmy moved young Anna and her grandmother to the home of his friend, Frieda Szturmann. When they needed it, he provided them with medicine and medical care. When the gestapo interrogated him, he did not expose the people he sheltered.

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