El Salvador seeks Yad Vashem honor for diplomat

May 15, 2007 07:38

The Salvadoran government said Monday it will seek a posthumous medal for diplomat Jose Arturo Castellanos, who gave citizenship certificates to as many as 40,000 Jews during the Holocaust. The "Righteous Among the Nations" recognition is awarded by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, to non-Jews who helped Jews escape death in Nazi-controlled Europe during World War II. The honor includes being listed on the Wall of Honor at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and has been given to 21,758 people. But few may have saved as many lives as Castellanos, who was the Salvadoran Consul General in Geneva, Switzerland, in the early 1940s. Representing a tiny country almost half a world away, Castellanos authorized Salvadoran citizenship papers to Jews throughout Europe, making it harder for the Nazis to deport them for execution.

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