Jerusalem Working Group
for Recognition of Major Jewish Rescuers during the Shoah
POB 23718 Jerusalem 91236


Help from the New World


Foreground: War time Washington, D.C.

Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson) was a young emissary sent to America from the Yishuv. After learning about the Holocaust he put his assigned mission aside and set up t he Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe. His rescue group’s PR campaign forced America to finally face the tragedy of European Jewry. Despite many obstacles, including severe obstructionism by the Jewish establishment, his rescue group held extraordinary public events and placed glaring full-page newspaper ads calling for immediate rescue. Hillel Kook led a spectacular march of 400 Orthodox Rabbis to the White House on October 6, 1943 and organized a pageant "We Shall Never Die" performed in major US cities. These were the sole public protests of such high profile against America’s indifference to the fate of European Jewry.

Hillel Kook’s and his supporters’ activism broke thru apathy and stirred up Congress to discuss the tragedy of Europe’s Jews and seek possible means of rescue. Hillel Kook had dedicated supporters in Congress and the Senate and was also supported by Treasury Secretary Morgenthau. Persistent pressure eventually resulted in President Roosevelt creating the War Refugee Board (WRB) in January 1944. The WRB was an extremely important tool in hands of great rescuers like Raoul Wallenberg and Carl Lutz in helping to rescue well over a hundred thousand Jews in Budapest.


Background: Budapest - Winter 1944

Under the pro-Nazi Szálasi Regime the last reservoir of Hungarian Jewry struggled to survive Eichmann’s efforts to complete the "Final Solution" in Hungary. The two men surrounded by Jews they rescued are Raoul Wallenberg (Swedish diplomat) and Carl Lutz (Swiss diplomat). Despite great personal danger they valiantly fought to protect much of Budapest Jewry under Swedish and Swiss protection, respectively.

The woman behind them is Mrs. Recha Sternbuch, the charismatic Swiss representative of the New York-based Va’ad Hatzala. She distributed many protective papers, smuggled Jews to safety across the Austrian-Swiss border and, among other things, in late 1944 she handled ransom negotiations with Himmler to rescue large numbers of Jews in Hungary and other occupied territories. The Swiss government jailed her for her valiant rescue efforts.


Painting created for International Rescuer Day 2006

Hanalisa Omer
Rechov HaNerd 32a, Jerusalem 96626
Tel: (02) 643-2120 and (052) 305-6505


The Jerusalem Working Group White Paper  provides additional historic background

Jun 24, 2006