Thirty-four diplomats from around the world will be honoured for their courage for collectively saving 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust, in an extraordinary exhibition in Sydney in February 2020.
Titled Beyond Duty, the photographic exhibition of the diplomats, who have been declared Righteous Among The Nations by Yad Vashem, will be held in the Fountain Court at NSW Parliament House from February 3 – 28. It is a combined project of NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Embassy of Israel.
Many countries of the free world were reluctant to help Jewish refugees during the Holocaust and most diplomats continued operating according to these guidelines. Only very few felt that extraordinary times required extraordinary action, and were willing to act against their governments’ policies to save Jews. This small minority, when faced with the plight of the Jews, decided they were unable to continue with ‘business as usual’ and chose to defy their superiors and risk suffering the consequences.
“I may have to disobey the government, but if I don’t, I would be disobeying God.”– Chiune Sugihara served as Japan’s consul in Kovno, Lithuania and personally saved over 2,000 Jews before almost all the Jews in Lithuania were murdered.
“If I could [have], I would [have] save[d] all of them. But unfortunately, that was beyond my competence.” (Selahattin Ülkümen, in a letter to Yad Vashem in 1989). Selahattin Ülkümen was the Turkish Consul General on the island of Rhodes. When in 1944, the Germans began to round up the island’s 1,700 Jews, he managed to save approximately 40 Jews from deportation to Auschwitz.
“I’ve taken on this assignment, and I will never be able to return to Stockholm without knowing that I’d done all a man could do to save as many Jews as possible.” – Raoul Wallenberg served as secretary in the Swedish Embassy in Budapest and issued 650 protective passports to Jews who had some connection with Sweden as well as thousands of protective letters to place buildings housing Jews under the Swedish flag.
The Beyond Duty exhibition is dedicated to the Righteous Diplomats and to the Holocaust survivors whose courage and resilience continues to inspire us.
Inquiries: 9360 1600.