Contact B'nai B'rith

1120 20th Street NW, Suite 300N Washington, D.C. 20036


Recipients of the Jewish Rescuers Citation at the 2024 Yom Hashoah Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony

1. Dr. Vittorio Emanuele Sacerdoti (1915-2000, Italy) along with two non-Jewish Italian doctors, fabricated a fictitious disease called Syndrome K to keep the SS away from Jews who were hiding in a hospital in Rome. The hospital operated near the Jewish ghetto under the auspices of the Vatican. Jews found refuge in the hospital from the beginning of the German occupation of Rome in Sept. 1943 until the liberation in June 1944. Thanks to the resourcefulness of Dr. Sacerdoti, about 45 Jews were saved.

2. Harry Roth (1915, Slovakia-1998, USA) posed as an employee of the Slovak embassy in Prague after the German occupation in March 1939, and gave Jews who came to the embassy permits to return to Slovakia. He encouraged them to use these permits to travel to a safe country (and not to Slovakia, which had become a protectorate of Nazi Germany), thereby saving the lives of thousands of Jews.

3. Dr. Alexander Herman (1913, Austria-1975, Czechoslovakia) was an inmate-doctor in the Theresienstadt, Birkenau, and Taucha camps. When the SS doctor conducted a selection, Herman would hide the seriousness of the female prisoners’ illnesses, thereby saving their lives. At the beginning of April 1944, in light of the advance of the American army, the Germans evacuated most of the prisoners and took them on a death march to the east, into Germany.  On April 13, 1944, Dr. Herman convinced the camp commandant to leave the 140 sick prisoners in the camp and to appoint him civil guard. On April 18, two wounded Jews from another camp came to Taucha and reported that the last of the prisoners had been burned to death by the retreating Nazis. Dr. Herman and fellow inmate Bela Hazan left the camp to ask for the protection of the approaching American army forces, but they refused to come to the camp, and Herman and Hazan went back to the camp. They smuggled the inmates into the nearby forest, and from there, moved them towards the American army forces, thereby saving their lives

4. Jakob Silberstein (1921, Poland-2021, Israel) was imprisoned in the Buchenwald and Auschwitz-Buna camps, where he was a member of the ” Kampfgruppe Auschwitz “, the Auschwitz Combat Group that planned an armed uprising to enable the prisoners—most of them Jews—to escape. Jakob smuggled explosives to the underground, but after the operation failed to materialize, the explosives were used in the Sonderkommando revolt in Oct. 1944. Jakob was brutally tortured by the Gestapo but did not betray his friends in the underground. In 1947, he immigrated to Israel.

5. Yitzhak Philipp (1906, Germany-1994, Israel) was a prisoner in Auschwitz and participated in boxing competitions organized by the Nazi guards in order to obtain extra food rations, which he distributed among his starving friends. After the death march, while on the train to Germany, he risked his life when he got off at one of the stations without permission, and distributed water to dehydrated prisoners in the other cars. After the war, he worked on behalf of the illegal immigration operation to bring survivors to the Land of Israel. He made aliyah in 1946 on the immigration ship Tel Hai.

6. Frédéric Chimon (‘Chameau’) Hammel (1907, France- 2001, Israel), together with his wife Jeanne and Robert Gamzon, founded the Jewish Scouts organization in France in 1923. He also established an agricultural center in Taluyers to train young people in the field of agriculture and other occupations. After the German occupation, these centers also served as hiding places. When the arrests of the Jews in the southern region of Vichy-occupied France began in Aug. 1942, Hammel scattered the young people among various safe places with Protestants in the area and equipped them with fake certificates. Hammel also hid 20 girls in the Carmel Monastery in Moissac. In May 1943, Gamzon and Hamel strengthened the relationship between the Jewish Scouts and the Zionist Youth, so they could cooperate in rescuing children and adults.

With the dismantling of the agricultural farms due to increased persecution by the Germans and the intensification of the danger, Hammel moved the young people to Spain. He was detained at a German checkpoint at Pont de Valence and released after interrogations, continuing his rescue activity until May 18, 1944. He was later sent to Switzerland as a liaison for the Jewish Scouts in France, serving in this position until Sept. 11, 1944. In 1947, Hammel immigrated to the Land Israel, together with his family.

7. Jeanne Sarah (‘Fourmi’) Hammel (1907, France-2002, Israel) was active in the Jewish resistance in France from 1940 until the liberation. Together with her husband, Frédéric and Robert Gamzon, she helped found the Jewish Scouts movement. Together with their children, Ruthie and Michael, she lived in the agricultural center in Taluyers, and took part in the rescue activities there alongside her husband. When Frédéric was absent due to his many travels, she served as one of the two senior commanders of the Jewish Scouts. During the war, she also worked with the “L’association protestante Protection des familles du pasteur Jacques Bost’, which helped children and their parents avoid arrest and deportation to detention and death camps.

8. Siegfried Gumbel (1874, Germany-1942, Dachau) was a public leader in Baden-Württemberg. Among other positions, he served as head of the Bar Association and president of the B’nai B’rith lodge. From 1936 and until his arrest by the Nazis in 1941, he also served as the chairman of the city’s Jewish community. In these roles, he fought against anti-Semitism and encouraged Jews to emigrate from Germany.  Thanks to his encouragement, a group of 74 Jews from Württemberg immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1938. In the spring of 1937, and once again about a year later, Dr. Gumbel visited his young son Eric, who had made aliyah. On the night of Nov. 9-10, 1938, Dr. Gumbel became the first Jewish casualty of Kristallnacht. He was interned in the Gestapo camp in Walzheim, from which he returned 10 days later a broken man. In the summer of 1939, he went to Geneva to participate in negotiations to rescue Jews and returned to Germany to continue his activities. Dr. Gumbel was arrested on Oct. 5, 1941.  He was interrogated at length and was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp on Jan. 27, 1942. With the end of the war, Siegfried’s grandson, Daniel, immigrated to the Land of Israel.

9. Artur Poznanski Artur Poznanski (1912, Germany-1998, Israel) worked in commerce for a living. He trained in Jewish social work and served as the volunteer chairman of the Jewish community’s social assistance department in central Berlin from 1933 to 1938. In this capacity, he accompanied 120 boys and girls to Denmark in 1935 and then returned to Germany. In 1938, he accompanied another group of 30 young Jews to Sweden to save them from being sterilized by the Nazis, and out of a sense of responsibility for the fate of his people, once again returned to Germany. From 1939 to 1941, he served as an instructor and director of training for the Hechalutz movement in Germany. He was also the director of the home for at-risk Jewish youth, where he prevented the deportation of the 60 young people who lived there, until he was transferred in Sept. 1941 to work in a dye factory in Berlin. After he was deported to Auschwitz in Feb. 1943, he worked in the office of the health clinic. He used his position to save Jews, at great risk to his life. He forged illness and death documents, and obtained additional food rations, rest days and shoes, saving Jews from illness and death in the terrible cold. After the war, he worked on behalf of the “Bricha”—the underground effort to smuggle Jews from Europe into the Land of Israel.

10. Georges (Grégoire) Garel (1909, Lithuania-1979, France) joined the French Resistance after German occupation in 1940. In the summer of 1942, the Vichy regime’s arrests of Jews who were not French citizens (later, also of French Jews) increased. Garel responded to the request by his brother-in-law, Charles Lederman, director of the OSE (Children’s Aid Society, the humanitarian organization of French Jews) to join a committee that included Christians, among them clergymen, to save Jewish children from deportation from the Vénissieux Detention Camp to the Drancy camp, from which convoys left for Auschwitz. The OSE worked openly alongside the UGIF (the umbrella organization of French Jews under the Vichy regime). In Aug. 1943, they smuggled 108 children from the camp. Later, at Laderman’s request, Garel and his wife, Elise, established the “Garel Network.” The network operated as an underground arm of the OSE and found hiding places for 1,600 children in France with the help of clerical officials and also smuggled children and adults to Switzerland. The network maintained secret lists of the children so that it would be possible to locate them after the war. After the war, Garel served as the director of the OSE and was later elected president of the organization.

11. Elise Lazarine Garel (1921-2013, France) was active in the Jewish Resistance in the framework of the OSE from 1942 until the liberation of France. She took part, alongside her husband, Georges Garel in the rescue of Jewish children and adults as part of the “Garel Network.” The family’s house in Lyon became a meeting place for members of the Garel network including Andrea Solomon (a senior OSE employee), where the fake certificates were issued.

12. Victor Chaï “Young” Perez (1911, Tunisia-1945, Auschwitz Death March) won the French flyweight boxing championship in 1931 and the world championship in 1932. He was arrested in Sept. 1943 and sent to the Drancy camp and from there to Auschwitz III. Risking his life, he smuggled out pots of soup from the kitchen, where he worked and secretly distributed them to exhausted, sick and starving prisoners, who without his help would not have survived. During his incarceration in the camp, Victor was forced to participate in exhibition fights against Jewish and German boxers to entertain his Nazi captors. On Jan. 22, 1945, he was sent on the death march, during which he was shot and killed.

13. Josef “Jupp” Weiss (1893, Germany-1976, Israel) was a wealthy businessman, a Zionist and a member of the B’nai B’rith lodge in Cologne, Germany. He fought in the German army in World War I. He was arrested by the Nazis on Feb. 1933 for smuggling foreign currency to family members in the Netherlands as part of his plan to immigrate there if the Nazis rose to power. In the summer of that year, he fled to Holland, reunited with his wife and their two sons who had immigrated before him, and established a fashion house, while continuing his Zionist activities. After Kristallnacht, he smuggled many Jewish relatives and strangers to the Netherlands. He remained near the German-Dutch border for days at a time to assist refugees. His home in Aerdenhout became a place of refuge for Jewish refugees and although he did not receive Dutch citizenship, he appealed to the Dutch authorities to obtain assistance for the Jews. With the Nazi invasion in May 1940 and the fall of the Netherlands, the Weiss family was expelled from their home, but Josef continued his Zionist activities in his new residence in Hilversum. On Jan. 27, 1942, he was ordered to move to the Westerbork camp, where he was initially tasked with looking after youngsters from Germany who were in the camp without their parents. In July 1942, he was appointed head of the Department of Material Assistance for new prisoners and deportees from the east. In Jan. 1944, he was sent on the first transport to Bergen-Belsen, where he was appointed deputy of the Jewish Council in the “Star Camp.” Starting in December, he served as the acting “Elder of the Jews”—the representative of all the 11 affiliated Bergen-Belsen camps and was responsible for internal registration. During this period he risked his life to save others in various ways, including: establishing work groups to perform simple tasks in order to save the elderly and sick, violating administrative orders to ease living conditions, making changes to the lists of the dead to obtain additional food rations; granting access to water to prisoners without the knowledge of the guards who had closed the pipe, “correcting” the numbers of prisoners during roll calls in order to finish the roll call quickly, making things easier for the prisoners (for which he was punished) and more. In April 1945, he was transported by train, together with his wife, Erna, and 2,400 other inmates, from Bergen-Belsen towards Theresienstadt. At the end of an exhausting two-week journey through Germany, they were liberated by the Red Army. The typhoid epidemic that broke out after the liberation of the train claimed the lives of about 300 of the passengers, including that of his wife. After the war, Josef Weiss immigrated to Israel with his family.