The feat of the Salvadoran who stole lives to the Nazis

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"The Rescue" is a documentary that tells the courage that took José Arturo Castellanos military, to issue certificates of Salvadoran Jews to save them from the Holocaust, during world war II. The film was produced by the grandchildren of the diplomatic military.

By Alejandra Salcedo

Winnipeg, Glen. The curious about the humanitarian work he did Colonel José Arturo Castellanos led Alvaro and Boris Castellanos, grandchildren military, to initiate an investigation into his "granddaddy", as we affectionately call him.

Brothers, descendants of the seventh son of Colonel, They began to rebuild the memories of the military in 2013, after learning that Castellanos 2010 he received the posthumous title of "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, which collects the experiences of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution.

Since childhood, Young heard about Colonel thanks to the maternal grandmother took care to tell their story. They never met in person because they emigrated from El Salvador very small, but the desire to know more about the life of the grandfather led them to do field research, He is culminating in the production of the film "The Rescue" or "El Rescate".

The Salvadoran military served as consul in Geneva, Switzerland, and from his trench he helped save 13 Salvadoran thousand Jewish families providing them with documents.

They traveled to several countries and collected images of places, documents, interviews with their own families and survivors of the Holocaust.

Alvaro, the eldest brother, ensures that struck them humanity grandfather, "Is someone very special and although it was not the only, what he did, He did diplomatic and clandestinely ... worried about his neighbor and put his life in danger to help others ".

As for Boris history it is "unique" because it highlights "a Jew and a military-diplomatic Salvadoran who came together to do something great, It is a history of collaboration to help ".

Popularly speaking diplomat saved 40 Holocaust thousand people, Castellanos brothers but dare not say precisely what number the figure rises. Alvaro warns that the amount varies and prefer to stick to the idea that "were 13 thousand documents issued 13 thousand families "and each of these could have an average number of four, "And so you could do something mathematically approximate".

Boris and Alvaro Castellanos traveled to Hungary to interview Anna Bayer, daughter of a survivor who saved his life, thanks to documents provided by the Salvadoran consulate in Geneva, Switzerland.

Factory

"The Rescue" collects the great feat of Castellanos and his work in Europe as consul in Liverpool, England, then Hamburg, Germany and later in Geneva, Switzerland 1942. From his trench in Geneva did humanitarian work.

It started with his Hungarian-Jewish friend George Mandel, he issued documents Salvadorans to him and his family, while he appointed First Secretary of the diplomatic delegation, a position that did not exist in those years, and also he changed the name to Mantello to sound more Latin. Then, Mantello diplomat proposed to issue certificates of Salvadoran citizenship to Jews to save their lives and they did.

George Mandel-Mantello, and his friend Jose Arturo Castellanos, They worked together on the issuing of certificates of Salvadoran citizenship for Hungarian Jews persecuted by the Nazis.

"The Rescue" makes a tour of the headquarters buildings where they were Salvadoran consulates in Europe and of course where "small factory" issuing legal papers mounted. "They were real but without the authorization of El Salvador Documents", Alvaro clarifies.

He quoted movies of Anna Bayer (Brünner), daughter of a survivor in Hungary, who reported that his grandparents and his father were Salvadoran and that the document came to them unexpectedly and believe that obtained by a relative.

The ducts except reached in various ways, many of them were sent as blank documents that were filled with data from the Jews who took refuge in the Glass House in Budapest or "did come through messengers ... But I want to emphasize that most of them went through channels Jewish friend of my grandfather who was Mr. Mantello ", says Boris.

Salvadoran diplomat never measured the extent of these actions during World War II, simply because "he could not see anyone needed something and not pass it on", Castellanos says his daughter Ruth, who remembers how people were looking for him in the office to ask for favors.

The story of Joachim "Yoya" Joseph, a child 13 years, Also cited in the film, highlights how the Salvadoran document was received when he and his family were in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belgen in Germany, and was safe conduct pass to life and freedom. Later, Joachim "Yoya" Joseph became the head of the space shuttle Columbia and died in 2008.

Joachim “Yoya” Joseph had 13 when he survived the Holocaust, Thanks Salvadoran certificate, extended during World War II.

The research threw a vast information that was not included in the documentary 45 minutes, as a family of survivors living in El Salvador who declined to appear on camera, now they have changed religion.

The brothers Castellanos said many documents were destroyed because they were issued in hiding.

The funny thing is that the beneficiaries of the certificates of Salvadoran Jews did not speak Spanish and Alvaro that the situation sparked a popular joke among Hungarian: "What is the largest visible minority in Budapest? Salvadorans course ..., and when Salvadorans do not want you to know what you're saying, What language do they speak?... (Yidish)”.

Respect for these documents was an exchange of diplomatic relations, because many Germans were living in Central and South America and did not want their fellow citizens were harassed or deported.

The highest expression Art

Production script, recording and editing "El Rescate" took more than three years for Castellanos brothers. They confess that it was not an easy job, because they had the responsibility to revive the memory of Colonel a great way to bring the same blood in their veins.

And there was no better time to do it reverently and artistic when it premiered in Berlin, Germany 2016 in the building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, It was formerly the headquarters of "Reichsbank", the bank of the Nazis. "There was wealth that had been stolen from European countries ... And the opportunity to tell this Salvadoran who stole their lives to the Nazis", says Alvaro.

So, Boris was devised to present the documentary with live music accompanied by a small orchestra in which they also participated, Álvaro running bass and piano Boris. Furthermore recited live part of the script, a detail that continue to, and allowing the public live presentation more emotion. In fact, They consider that there is nothing grander than relying present ideas in art.

The brothers traveled two or three times to each of the countries involved in the story, as: U.S, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Italy, Israel and El Salvador, in order to collect the necessary information.

The total cost of the film was not released, but Alvaro said that "it was an expensive project, we never discussed openly, but there were a lot of personal sacrifice ... If We account for each camera, light, interview or every trip ... and we tried to pay us, there would be a number, but we did well. We did it voluntarily what we could and when we could. What we did was quick interview survivors, about a year after we spoke to them died and the months ".

But nevertheless, recognize that production ended with the financial support of "a lady in El Salvador and a wonderful family of a survivor in Toronto".

"The Rescue" was also presented in Berlin, in Toronto and Winnipeg, in Miami, Hamburg, Buenos Aires, Panama and Beijing. It has not yet been exhibited in El Salvador because the descendants of Colonel want it to be more than just a presentation, claim that the "granddaddy" living in national history through a monument that will pay tribute to his memory.

The documentary was presented in Winnipeg, Glen, to the Jewish and Salvadoran community, and some Holocaust survivors.

In Israel, for example, the name of José Arturo Castellanos was recorded on a wall of forest in the garden Yad Vashem "Righteous Among the Nations", a title given to people who helped Jews during the Holocaust, and to receive must have met three requirements: not being Jewish, not be charged and having risked life.

When he asked if they had done the same, Boris response was: "At the end of the film, Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, ex director de Yad Vashem dice: 'Yes, he did it, you can also do '. Five years ago definitely he thought he could not have done what my grandfather did, but it is something that is developed, Now I have developed my vision to recognize that it can be done ", because "someone does something without knowing it's going to be great and it does so only to help".

"The Rescue" emphasizes that the military never agreed with the government's repression of Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez, and Colonel through his writings had a critical position before the slaughter of Indians 1932. When the diplomat returned to El Salvador, World War II ended, He was exiled to Mexico by disagreeing again with the current government.

Alvaro Castellanos, grandson of Colonel, He warned in the screening of the documentary that his grandfather never agreed with the repression of the military government of Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez.

For many, Castellanos is the Salvadoran Schindler, but the truth is that the diplomatic military with the help of his friend Mantello, He managed to save many more lives without taking any advantage or benefit.

Salvadoran hero died in 1977, but his daughter Yvonne Castellanos said that before his death saw him mourn "because he could not save Polish Jews, I felt I had not done enough to save more lives ... I felt pain ".