Filmmakers Launch Search for WWII Testimonies Starting on Memorial Day
The Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection, a new collection of testimonies about righteous diplomats turned rescuers during the Holocaust, to be showcased at USC Shoah Foundation this Fall.
The Rescuers-Last Chance Project a “race against time” to document more untold, first-hand stories of the dozens more diplomats and seeks the public’s assistance.
Fifteen hours of interviews related to a group of World War II-era diplomats who defied official policies to save hundreds of thousands of people from the Holocaust are to be integrated into the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
The interviews, featured in filmmaker Michael W. King and Joyce D. Mandell’s award-winning documentary The Rescuers, describe the actions of 13 diplomats—including Swede Raoul Wallenberg and Americans Varian Fry and Hiram Bingham—whose tireless efforts to save Jews and others earned them the status of “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The interviews being integrated into the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive are the inaugural collection of testimonies to be named the Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection, and are the world’s largest World War II known filmed historical compilation dedicated to testimony about the “Righteous Diplomats.” The collection will be made available to the public through the Visual History Archive in the fall in conjunction with the 82nd anniversary of the outbreak of World War II.
“We can all be uplifted by the fact that the stories of these rescuers are themselves being rescued for posterity. Now they can inform and inspire future generations just as they are doing for viewers today,” said Stephen Smith, Finci-Viterbi Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation.
Among those featured in the Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection are testimonies from survivors and relatives who recount the stories about the following diplomats: German diplomat (and Nazi Party member) Georg F. Duckwitz in Copenhagen; Americans Varian Fry and Hiram Bingham in Marseilles; Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara and the Dutch Jan Zwartendijk in Kaunas; Turkish Consul Selahattin Ulkumen in Rhodes; British Captain Frank Foley in Berlin; Polish diplomat Henryk Slawik in Budapest; and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who helped coordinate Budapest’s rescue efforts in 1944 along with Archbishop Angelo Rotta, who represented the Vatican; Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes in France; and Consul Carl Lutz of Switzerland. The collection also features a segment from His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, who reveals a little-known story about his grandmother, Princess Alice, and Sir Martin Gilbert.
In a related development, Michael W. King is expanding his research efforts with support from the Andrew J. and Joyce D. Mandell Family Foundation and USC Shoah Foundation to identify additional survivors and relatives to continue to document the stories of an additional 32 diplomats with “Righteous Among the Nations” status, with the goal for these new stories to be ultimately added to the Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection in the future.
“This is our last chance to document first-hand accounts related to diplomats who were at the center of the 20th century’s most unforgettable events,” King said. A list of the diplomats the team is looking to profile is below.
In what King calls “a race against time,” a team of researchers is currently working to identify people who knew the 32 diplomats or Holocaust survivors who benefited from their assistance. King and Joyce D. Mandell are leading the new initiative. King, an adjunct professor at Arizona State University’s Sidney Poitier New American Film School, is collaborating with historian/Director of Research Alexa D. Potter.
The launch of King and Mandell’s latest collection effort coincides with the 10th anniversary of the release of The Rescuers documentary (rescuersdoc.com), King’s award-winning film that was nominated in the Outstanding Documentary category at the NAACP Image Awards in 2011. The film, which will be streaming on Tubi and Amazon in June, was inspired by the work of British historian Sir Martin Gilbert and his 2003 book The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust.
The Rescuers research team is looking to speak with anyone who may have information about the 32 “Righteous Among the Nations” diplomats who are to be included in the expanding Joyce D. Mandell Rescuers Collection. Those with pertinent information are encouraged to visit rescuersdoc.com.
A list of the 32 diplomats is as follows: Brazilian diplomats Aracy De Carvalho (Germany) and Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas (France); Chinese diplomat Feng Shan Ho (Austria); Ecuadorian diplomat Manuel Borrero Muñoz (Sweden); El Salvadoran diplomat José Castellanos
Contreras (Geneva, Switzerland); French diplomat François de Vial (Italy); Italian diplomats Pacifico Marchesini (The Netherlands), Giorgio Perlasca (Hungary) and Angelo Rotta (Hungary); Peruvian diplomat Jose Maria Baretto (Geneva, Switzerland); Polish diplomats Władysław Bartoszewski (Warsaw) and Konstanty Rokicki (Switzerland); Portugese diplomat Carlos Sampaio (Hungary); Romanian diplomats Constantin Karadja (Germany) and Florian Manoliu (Hungary); Slovakian Ján Spišiak (Hungary); Spanish diplomats Angel Sanz Briz (Hungary), Eduardo Propper de Callejon (France), Sebastian Radigales (Greece), and Jose Santaella (Germany); Swedish diplomats Per Anger (Hungary), Lars Berg (Hungary), Carl Ivan Danielsson (Hungary), and Elow Kihlgren (Italy); Swiss diplomats Harald Feller (Hungary), Ernst Prodolliet (Austria), Ernst Vonrufs (Hungary), and Peter Zurcher (Hungary); and Yugoslavian diplomat Franjo Puncuch (Warsaw), among others.
Adam J. Segal
The 2050 Group – Publicity