Israel honors Chilean diplomat who saved Jews during Holocaust

Yad Vashem posthumously honored Samuel del Campo from Chile as “Righteous Among the Nations” for his efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, on Sunday hosted a ceremony posthumously honoring Samuel del Campo from Chile, as Righteous Among the Nations.

Prof. Sergio Della Pergola, member of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous, and Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Department of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem, presented Dr. Christian Beals Campos, a relative of Samuel del Campo, with the medal and certificate of honor on behalf Yad Vashem, the State of Israel and the Jewish people.

The “Righteous Among the Nations” designation is a title bestowed upon gentiles who rescued Jews during the Holocaust

Samuel del Campo will be added to the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.

Del Campo was a diplomat in the Foreign Service of the Republic of Chile. From 1941 to 1943, he served as Chargé d’Affaires at the Chilean Representation in Bucharest, Romania, and assisted Romanian Jews by issuing various documents, mainly to Polish Jews in Czernowitz.

During October 1941, a ghetto was established in the city of Czernowitz, and deportations to Transnistria began.

During 1941–1944, Transnistria was used as a killing field for the extermination of Jews from Romania. Survivors say that in comparison with the Holocaust of Nazi-controlled Germany, where deportations were carefully planned, the Romanian government did not prepare to house thousands of people in Transnistria, where the deportees stayed. The people were instead placed in crude barracks without running water, electricity or latrines. Those who could not walk were simply left to die.

In the absence of an official Polish representation in Romania, as Poland was occupied by the Nazis at the time, the representation of the interests of Polish citizens in Romania was transferred to Chile, and del Campo began to issue Chilean passports for Jews of Polish nationality, including to members of the Kiesler family of Czernowitz and the Rosenthal family from Bucharest.

After the deportations from Czernowitz to Transnistria resumed in June 1942, del Campo continued to intervene with the Romanian authorities in favor of “the Jews under the protection of Chile.”

Based on recorded minutes from discussions in the Council of Ministers of Romania, Yad Vashem was able to estimate that approximately 1,200 Jews received Chilean passports, providing them with protection against the deportations.

In the spring of 1943, diplomatic relations between Chile and Romania were severed, and Switzerland began to represent the interests of Chile. The documents del Campo issued were clearly not in line with the Chilean government’s policy; when Swiss envoys asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile to clarify the policy of the Ministry regarding the granting of Chilean passports, they were told that “they would prefer not to grant new passports without the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile.”

Del Campo was appointed Consul-General in Zurich, but the appointment never came into effect, and del Campo never returned to serve in Chile’s Foreign Ministry.

He died in Paris in the 1960s.

By: World Israel News Staff