(Jerusalem, Jan. 19, 2021)—A Jewish Rescuers Citation will be presented in memory of Teddy Kollek (1911-2007), former mayor of Jerusalem, at a ceremony to be held in Hebrew at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, at 18:30 (reception 18:00). The citation, a joint project of the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust, will be conferred in recognition of Kollek’s heroic efforts to rescue fellow Jews in Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria.
The certificate will be presented during the premiere screening of the film “Recognition”–director: Shoshi Ben Hamo; producer and initiator: Abraham Huli. The film tells the exceptional story of the rescue of Jews by fellow Jews who endangered their lives to do so during the Holocaust. The film is presented from the viewpoint of the rescuers, many of whom could have hidden or escaped but chose to rescue their Jewish brethren while knowingly endangering themselves. The rescuers operated in cities, villages, ghettos and camps, and employed resourcefulness, tenacity and courage, risking their lives to save others. Some paid with their lives. The film was shot in Israel, France, Poland, Greece, Holland and Hungary, beginning in 2016.
Speakers at the event will be Teddy and Tamar Kollek’s daughter Osnat; Arie Barnea, chairman of the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust; B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider; Huli and the film’s historical advisor Professor Gideon Greif.
Since the establishment of the Jewish Rescuers Citation in 2011 by the B’nai B’rith World Center and the Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers, nearly 600 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, Holland, France, Slovakia, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Belarus, Italy, Poland, Morocco, Algiers, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Belgium. Ceremonies were held in Israel, France, Holland, Italy, Canada, Belgium, Greece and the U.S. The Jewish Rescuers Citation was established in an effort to help correct the generally held misconception that Jews failed to come to the aid of fellow Jews during the Holocaust.
Teddy Kollek engaged in many Zionist and rescue activities in Europe during the Holocaust. Beginning in 1931, at the age of 19, he led Zionist youth activities in the provincial town of Moravská Ostrava, which served as the central location for the World Zionist Organization in Czechoslovakia. One year later, Kollek continued his Zionist activism in Dortmund, Germany, returning to Czechoslovakia in December 1932 after engaging in a number of street fights with Nazis, one of which led to an unpleasant episode in a local police station, after which Kollek decided to leave Germany immediately.
Back in Czechoslovakia, Kollek organized activities of the Zionist youth movement “Blue White” in the Sudetenland. As the representative of the “Halutz” Aliya movement in England from 1939, Kollek succeeded in obtaining 3,000 entry certificates for young Jews in Germany, allowing them to work in agriculture for a limited time before continuing to Palestine. In the spring of 1939, Kollek left England for Czechoslovakia, which was already under German occupation, to undertake a complex and dangerous mission to allow Jews to transfer assets to Great Britain.
From Czechoslovakia Kollek, carrying a great many certificates for Austrian Jews, continued to Vienna for a meeting with Adolf Eichmann, who at the time was head of Jewish Affairs at the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst—SD). The meeting took place in April 1939 at SD headquarter in Villa Rothschild, which had been nationalized by the Nazis—this after the establishment of the first concentration camps, the Anschluss, Kristallnacht and the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Taking considerable personal risk at a dangerous time, Kollek succeeded in convincing Eichmann to apply to Austrian Jews the same regulations that allowed Jews to still leave Germany with entry permits from foreign countries, saving many lives.
Journalists with a Green Pass or a valid PCR test and press card are invited to attend the event on Jan. 23 subject to prior registration at the B’nai B’rith World Center: firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information please call Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center at 052-5536441, film director Shoshi Ben Hamo at 054-4993621 or producer Abraham Huli at 053-7738106.
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit www.bnaibrith.org