Carl Lutz

Carl Lutz in Budapest
Photo from holokausztmagyarorszagon.hu

A Righteous Gentile – a true man among the people of the world – Carl Lutz has been recognized as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem institute in Jerusalem.
The International Red Cross, embassies, consulates, and diplomats such as Friedrich Born (1903-1963), Angelo Rotta (1872-1965), Carl (Charles) Lutz (1895-1975), Raoul Wallenberg (1912-1947(?)), Valdemar Langlet (1872-1960), and Giorgio Perlasca (1910-1992) helped to save Jews in Hungary with fake passports, protective letters and “protected houses” (see the Glass House).

Carl Lutz was born in Walzenhausen, Switzerland on 30 March, 1895, his family had 9 more kids. Between 1910 – 1913 he studied in a school of trade and worked parallel in a textile factory.
From 1913 he went to Illinois in the United States of America to work as a blue collar worker.
Between 1918 – 1920 he studied in Missouri, and in 1920 he became a correspondent student at the Swiss embassy in Washington, where he was employed until 1926 as a consulate clerk. During this period he acquired his BA degree at the Law and History Faculty of the George Washington University. He worked as a counselor for the Swiss embassy until 1934 in Philadelphia and St. Louis.
He married Gertrud Fankhauser in 1935 and in the same year they moved to Palestine to be vice-consul of Switzerland representing Germany.

Carl Lutz arrived to Budapest in 1942. He played an important role in the rescue activities during the persecution by issuing tens of thousands of protective documents to Jews and also claimed diplomatic immunity for 72 protected houses established around Budapest. He tried to save many victims of the Arrow Cross terror on the bank of the Danube also.

The house called Glass House in Vadász street was the headquarters of the Zionist youth movement which coordinated rescue and relief activities for the Jews of Budapest. There were crowds risking their own lives while waiting for the Swiss safe-conduct passports in front of the house during the Holocaust.
Carl Lutz saved approximately 62000 Hungarian Jews from death between 1942 and 1945. He died in 1975.
One of the rooms of the Glass House had been turned into a memorial room, opened on 2 May, 2005.

Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district
The statue was made by Tamás Szabó in 1991.

Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto
The memorial in Budapest at the entrance of the former ghetto area.

Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto
Whoever saves a life is considered as if he has saved an entire world (Talmud).
In memory of those who in 1944 under the leadership of the Swiss Consul Carl Lutz rescued thousands of riddens of the Nazis.
Carl Lutz Comittee Switzerland, Budapest City Council 1991.

Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto
Whoever saves a life is considered as if he has saved an entire world (Talmud).
In memory of those who in 1944 under the leadership of the Swiss Consul Carl Lutz (1895-1975) rescued thousands from National Socialist persecution.

Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto
Detail of the Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto.

Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto
Detail of the Carl Lutz memorial in Budapest Jewish district, at the entrance of the former ghetto.

Carl Lutz Memorial unveiled in front of U.S. Embassy in Budapest
Read full article.

On December 13, 2006, in a poignant ceremony attended by foreign diplomats, Hungarian government officials and representatives of the Jewish community, a memorial to Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz was unveiled in the park adjacent to the U.S. Embassy at Szabadsag tér 12.
Ambassador April H. Foley in her unveiling speech noted that “few individuals during the dark times of World War II helped so many innocent people escape death,” and added that “through our common work we must ensure that there is never again a crime like the Holocaust.” Swiss Ambassador Marc André-Salamin honoring the memory of his fellow diplomat noted that Lutz had been the designer and leader of the biggest and most successful rescue operation of the 20th century. Mayor of Budapest Gábor Demszky emphasized that, without the activity of Carl Lutz, Budapest would not be the multicultural metropolis that it has become, and added that Budapest is the only capital in Central Eastern Europe where a Jewish community of more than 100,000 has survived following the Holocaust.

Last year, Carl Lutz’s daughter Agnes Hirschi was in Budapest. She remembers in this article (in Hungarian).

Photo Archives Collection of Yad Vashem about Carl Lutz

Biography of Carl Lutz in German

List of people who assisted Jews during the Holocaust
Since 1963, a commission organized by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Israel, and headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice, has been charged with the duty of awarding people who rescued Jews from the Holocaust the honorary title Righteous Among the Nations. As of January 2007, 21,758 people have received the honor.
Wikipedia article…

Photo exhibition in the Budapest History Museum 12 April – 13 May 2012
The exhibited photos were actually taken by Carl Lutz in Budapest between 1942–1945.
His office in Budapest was on the Szabadság (Liberty) square in the building of the American embassy near the Parliament house in Pest and he lived in the house of the British embassy on Werbőczi (today Mihály Táncsics) street in the castle of Buda.
He was a passionate amateur photographer, through his photos we can see Budapest in 1944 as a city far away from the war front and then Budapest during the siege, finally the results of the catastrophic destruction of the war.
The last photo of the exhibition was taken in 1949 when Carl Lutz returned to Budapest after his 1945 expulsion from Hungary, to marry Magda Csányi.

One of the photos:

Budapest castle district after the siege in 1945.

The poster of the exhibition:

More information here: Budapest History Museum

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