Dubbed ‘Arab Schindler’, Dr. Mohamed Helmy displayed extraordinary moral courage and bravery, risking his life to shelter Jews from Nazi persecution under the Third Reich.
If you conduct a simple search in Google, typing in 'The Holocaust', you're instantly inundated with endless stories of the horrors and heartbreak that took place during World War II in Nazi Germany. But if you dig deeper, you'll find that among the dark stories are nodes of bravery and kindness that wrapped themselves around the victims, and in some cases saved their lives. To spread a message of selflessness and mutual assistance on Holocaust Remembrance Day, last Friday, unfamiliar stories of heroic Muslims risking their lives to save Jews during the events of World War II were shared by Time Magazine, including the story of Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian doctor who lived in Berlin during that time.
Helmy received an award - that is perhaps overdue - for his compassion, courage, and values of justice during the darkest times of the Holocaust. He was a noble Egyptian man who put his life on the line by sheltering Jews in his Germany home and providing them with medical care in spite of the obvious consequences. 70 years later, one of the women he hid, Anna Boros, told stories of his courage and compassion towards her and her relatives, earning him Yad Vashem’s famous Righteous Among the Nations award in 2013.
Despite being awarded in 2013, 30 years after his death, Helmy was the first and only Arab to ever receive this recognition. However, his family did not accept Yad Vashem's accolade due to personal political sentiments concerning Israel, according to Daily Mail. The Righteous Among the Nations award is the most superior award that a non-Jew can receive for saving lives during the Holocaust.
Born in 1901, Helmy moved to Berlin in 1922 – 11 years before the Nazis came to power – in order to study medicine. He had been acquainted with the tyrannical ways of the Nazis before World War II. When the genocide began and Jews - and other groups - were subject to violent discrimination and deported to concentration camps, Helmy daringly took in Anna Boros, who was a Jewish family friend, and, later, also sheltered her mother, grandmother, and husband.
Documents also emerged showing the great lengths Helmy went to in order to protect Boros. There was one document from the Central Islamic Institute in Berlin stating that Boros converted to Islam, and a marriage certificate stating that Borus was married to an Egyptian man. Helmy supposedly arranged for these documents to be issued to protect Boros.
Marriage certificate stating that Anna Borus is a Muslim married to an Egyptian man.
According to Yad Vashem, Boros penned a letter to the Berlin Senate, in which she wrote: “Dr. Helmy did everything for me out of the generosity of his heart, and I will be grateful to him for eternity.”
It is worth noting that Helmy was not the only Muslim who helped Jews during the Holocaust. Jews from Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya have given testimonials full of powerful stories that showcase the triumph of humanity.
Anna Boros's children (back left) visiting Dr. Helmy (front left)
Following the war, Helmy continued his life in Germany where he married, before passing away in 1982. He did not have any children. Boros eventually immigrated to the United States where she married and told her story to her family. Before her death, Boros and her family visited Helmy in 1969, and then Boros’s children visited again in 1980.
“In a world of total moral collapse, there was a small minority who mustered extraordinary courage to uphold human values. Bystanders were the rule; rescuers were the exception. Helmy was one of them.” – Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Images retrieved from Yad Vashem.
Read Time Magazine's Article here.