By Theodore Shoebat
There is quite an amazing story that is rarely ever told, about a Catholic man from El Salvador who rescued 40,000 Jews from the Nazi death camps during the Holocaust. Read about it here:
José Arturo Castellanos was a Catholic from El Salvador who during the Second World War was sent as a diplomat to the city of Geneva, Switzerland.
But after his requests to his country to rescue Jews who began to face massive persecution at the hands of the Nazis were denied, he took matters in his own hands. Through courage and cunning, Castellanos helped save 40,000 Jewish people from the Holocaust.
His actions resulted in his being posthumously granted in July 2010 the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” awarded to non-Jews by Yad Vashem, an institution of the Israeli government constituted to honor the memory of the martyrs and heroes of the Holocaust. This title has been conferred on priests, religious and other lay persons who saved Jews at that time.
In July 2016 Pope Francis had an encounter at the Auschwitz concentration camp located in Poland with the representatives of some “Righteous Among the Nations” who had already died.
José Arturo Castellanos was born in 1893 in El Salvador to a Catholic and military family. In his youth he decided to join the army like his father and began to develop a brilliant career. In 1930 he traveled to Europe to complete his education.
A biography of him published on the Yad Vashem website states that at the age of 44 Colonel Castellanos was sent as a diplomat to England and in 1938 assigned to Germany.
There he witnessed the persecution of the Jews by the Nazi regime. In face of this he asked his superiors if he could grant them visas so they could escape the country, but this request was denied.
However, Castellanos did not give up and in 1939 he sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador in which he described the situation of the Jews and asked for his help. This petition was also denied to him.
The website of the documentary “Castellanos Movie” set up by his grandsons Alvaro and Boris Castellanos says that the colonel disobeyed the orders received from his country’s government and began to extend visas and Salvadoran nationality to Jews to prevent them from being sent by the Nazis to the concentration camps, where they were made to do forced labor in inhumane conditions or were killed.
In 1942 Castellanos was appointed El Salvador’s consul in Geneva. There he named George Mandel-Mantello, a Jewish refugee from Romania who was a friend of his, as first secretary of the consulate to implement the “Salvadoran action.”
The colonel authorized Mandel-Mantello to secretly deliver passports and certificates of Salvadoran citizenship to the Jews. The Yad Veshem institution explained that those that obtained these benefits were saved because El Salvador was considered a neutral country for not supporting any one of the sides that fought during the Second World War.
Castellanos made the issuance of more than 13,000 Salvadoran documents to be done without any charge. These papers were sent through his contacts to Jews who resided in France, Hungary, Germany, Holland, Slovakia and Romania.
According to the Castellanos Movie website, the issuance of just one document was enough to save a whole family.
Through this work carried out between the years 1942 and 1945, Castellanos succeeded in saving about 40,000 Jews. The Yad Vashem institution noted that after the 1944 elections, the new president of el Salvador, Salvador Castaneda Castro, unlike his predecessor, had his country get involved in the protection of the Jews in places like Hungary and provided support for Castellanos in his rescue mission.
Currently thousands of these certificates which granted Salvadoran nationality to Jews in Europe are exhibited in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Castellanos married Maria Schürmann of Switzerland, and the couple had three children. When the Second World War was over in 1945 he was sent to London and retired in 1972 at the age of 79.
He returned to El Salvador where he led a quiet life until he died in 1977, without having been awarded any recognition for his work.
After his death, several institutions began to hold tributes in memory of Colonel Castellanos.
In 2010 when it was announced that he would be awarded the title of “Righteous Among the Nations,” the El Salvador Minister of Foreign Relations, Hugo Martinez, said that the Salvadoran diplomat “stood out for his humanism and for his work in aiding a people which in their time was persecuted and whose existence was threatened.”
The ambassador of Israel in the Central American country, Mattanya Cohen, said that Castellanos is the fourth Latin American to receive this tribute.
In late June 2017, the embassies of Israel and El Salvador to the Holy See held an event in Rome to honor the memory and the work of José Arturo Castellanos. A video was also shown there of the testimony of a Jewish man who obtained Salvadoran citizenship and was able to escape with his family.
In a press release announcing this event posted on the website of Diplomatic Missions of Israel in the World, noted that Catellanos “in a time when many remained indifferent to human suffering, he was one of the few heroes who opposed an absolute evil in order to save the lives of thousands of Jews.”
The history of what done by Germany in the first half of the twentieth should make us keep track of what that country is devising. One observation that I have made to myself is how significant Eastern Europe is in major wars. The Thirty Years war began in Bohemia (today’s Czechoslovakia) with the Defenestration of Prague; the First World War was triggered in Bosnia with the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife; and the Second World commenced with Germany’s invasion of Poland andCzechoslovakia. There is a pattern here, and so in our observation of current events, we should have a special focus on Eastern Europe.
Germany, the head of the European Union, wants to destroy the voting rights of Poland in the EU. Germany is using a law recently passed in Poland to justify this. The new law gives the Polish government the right to appoint and assess Supreme Court justices, and “would allow the government to replace every member of the nation’s supreme court with people of its choice.” Germany’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, said: “the independence of the judiciary is in danger in Poland. … somebody who gives so little respect to the rule of law has to accept that he isolates himself politically.”
The EU with its German head wants to impose upon Poland a measure that has never been used before: article 7 of the EU treaty. According to one report:
The procedure, which has never yet been used by heads of government, allows for the eventual suspension of a state’s voting rights for “serious and persistent breaches” of fundamental EU values. That has to be agreed by unanimity, although the formal warning can be agreed by four-fifths of member states. This may well happen in September.
If the EU imposes article 7 on the country, Poland will not be able to vote in EU councils. According to one article from the Telegraph:
If triggered, Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydło, whose right-wing nationalist Law and Justice party are driving the reforms, could be excluded from decision-making in the councils of EU leaders.
Article 7 has two parts: article 7.1 and article 7.2. The first part allows the EU to warn a nation, and if this does not work, then 7.2 is implemented and the country’s right to vote in EU councils is stripped, the EU Council “may decide to suspend certain of the rights…including the voting rights of the representative of the government of that member state in the Council”. Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, said that Germany “is deeply mistaken and should not interfere”. The EU is also angered that, as it has stated, Poland made different retirement ages for men and women. The Dutch vice-president of the EU Commission, Frans Timmermans, who is a major advocate for imposing Article 7 on Poland, said:
One of our legal concerns is gender discrimination through the introduction of a different retirement age for female and male judges. Now the retirement age is the same, 67, and they introduce a different retirement age. This, in our view, is in violation of Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment.
In the same talk, Timmermans said:
The College discussed last week the option of using Article 7 if the situation did not improve, and our Recommendation gives a clear indication of what actions by the Polish authorities would bring us to that point.
The Recommendation does not prevent Article 7 being activated directly in case a sudden deterioration requires immediate and stronger action
The Commission’s Recommendation asks the Polish authorities not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges.
If such a measure is taken the Commission is ready to immediately trigger the Article 7(1) procedure.
I am not arguing whether or not the Polish reforms are just; I am pointing to how this could be used as an occasion for aggression by Germany and its allies. Let us remember that Germany and Austria did not care about the Archduke Ferdinand nor his wife when they were assassinated by the Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, rather they used the murder as a pretext and occasion for war. To use the words of historian David Fromkin:
“What the killings gave Vienna was not a reason, but an excuse, for taking action. They provided the Austrians with grounds for destroying Serbia — a pretext that Europe would accept and believe, and with which Europe might well even sympathize. It was a justification that might bring Germany to support them and prevent Russia from opposing them. … In this respect, and from Vienna’s point of view, Gavrilo Princip had committed the perfect crime.” (Europe’s Last Summer, p. v, ch. 25, p. 154)
Before the assassination even occurred, the Germans were already planning for a major war against its European neighbors. (Ibid, p. 157) On July 1 of 1914 there was a private conversation between the Austro-Hungarian diplomat, Count Alexander Hoyos, and Victor Naumann, a German journalist who had connections with major officials in the German government, especially with the foreign office. Naumann told Hoyos that now was the time “to annihilate Serbia,” and that it was in his view that “if at the present moment, when Kaiser Wilhelm is horrified at the Sarajevo murder, he is spoken to in the right way, he will give [Austria] all assurances and this time go to the length of war because he perceives the dangers for the monarchical principle.” (Ibid, p. 156)
Austria and Germany used the murder of the Archduke and his wife to justify war. Austria did not take the time to fully investigate the murders and publish its results for the world to see. Rather, the Austrians gave a plan for the war to the ruler of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and it was the same plan to war against Serbia that was devised before the assassination. (Ibid, p. 160)
The Germanic hoard was looking for a reason to go to war, and they used a cut throat strategy of diplomacy to further deepen their pretext. The Austrians gave the Serbs an ultimatum: give up your sovereignty or else there will be war. This could be what Germany is doing to Poland now: telling the country what to do with threats, giving Poland an ultimatum, all of which are forms of coercion that belittle and humiliate the authority and sovereignty of the country. One section of the ultimatum required Serbia:
“To accept the collaboration in Serbia of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government for the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarch.” (The note can be read in Fromkin’s book, Europe’s Last Summer, p. 308)
The ultimatum would have made Serbia subject to Austro-Hungarian control, and everyone who read this document knew that it was one that no nation could ever accept. Winston Churchill said:
“This note was clearly an ultimatum; but it was an ultimatum such as had never been penned in modern times. As the reading proceeded it seemed absolutely impossible that any State in the world could accept it, or that any acceptance, however abject, would satisfy the aggressor.” (Ibid, ch. 30, pp. 187-188)
The British Prime Minister, H.H. Asquith, wrote in a letter that the ultimatum would lead to Armageddon:
“Austria has sent a bullying and humiliating ultimatum to Serbia, who cannot possibly comply with it, and demanded an answer within forty-eight hours — failing which she will march. This means, almost inevitably, that Russia will come on the scene in defense of Serbia and in defiance of Austria; and if so, it is difficult both for Germany and France to refrain from lending a hand to one side or the other. So that we are in measurable, or imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon.” (Ibid, p. 188)
Sergey Sazonov, a Russian diplomat, said to the Austrian ambassador in regards to the ultimatum:
“I know what it is. You mean to make war on Serbia. … You are setting fire to Europe. … Why was Serbia given no chance to speak and why the form of an ultimatum? … The fact is you mean war and you have burnt your bridges. … One sees how peace-loving you are.” (Ibid, p. 190)
Why was there such hatred and animosity towards the Serbs by the Germanic people? What was the reason? The commencement and devising of the war had nothing to do with national security, but rather pure social-Darwinist hatred. In a private meeting between the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German diplomate, Prince Lichnowsky, the two expressed their anti-Slav racism:
Lichnowsky: “One could not measure the Balkan peoples by the same standard as the civilized nations of Europe. …”
Kaiser: “Right, for they aren’t!” (Ibid, p. 189)
The 19th century chief of staff for the Prussian Army, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, envisioned a conflict of “Slav East and the Latin West against the center of Europe,” that is, a bloody conflict in which the Germanic Central European nations would fight against the Catholic Latin West and the Orthodox Slavic countries.
I am not one of these types of people who believes that belief systems, without a Christian transformation, die out. The Germans wanted to destroy Europe in the First World War, they wanted to do the same in the Second. There is no reason to believe that they all of a sudden have changed. During the chaos of the First World War, the German general, Erich Ludendorff, conspired for the extirpation of the Polish people living in Polish territory that the Germans wanted to annex. In the words of the historian, Adam Tooze,
“Ludendorff had finally confronted the question of what to do with the large Polish and Jewish populations in the Polish territory he was determined to annex. His solution was taken from the pages of pan-German fantasy. As many as 2 million people would be uprooted from their homes, with particular care being taken to ensure that the large and politically dangerous Jewish population was neutralized. Ludendorff hoped that they might be ’caused to emigrate’ to the United States.” (Tooze, The Deluge, ch. 6, p. 135)
Such a historical reality of anti-Polish racism and antisemitism, shows that the Holocaust that would eventually be conducted by the Nazis was not something new to the Germanic supremacist mentality, rather it was the materialization of what they wanted to do all along. People tend to believe that Germany is no longer on the warpath. But this acceptance of feigned peace existed even before the Second World War, and this was after the horrific blood bath of the First World War (I wrote an article on this subject which can be read here).
The fact remains that Germany was anti-Pole during WW1; it was anti-Pole in WW2; and today it is using a situation of government reform within the Polish government to justify weakening its political leverage in the EU. It looks like the Germans are doing to the Poles what they and the Austrians did to the Serbs: crippling their sovereignty. If Poland changes its reforms out of fear for Germany, then it loses its authority; if Germany and its EU allies impose article 7 and remove Poland’s voting rights in the EU Council, then it would weaken its authority in the EU bloc, and make it further subservient to the Germanic nations. The danger that I see, if article 7 is imposed, is that the other EU nations can determine political measures on Poland without Poland’s permission since it would be ostracized from the Council. Its a win-win situation for Germany.
Germany has a plan, whatever the plan is, if it wants to execute it, it must undermine Poland’s voting rights in the EU, and other nations that may be a hinderance to their plans.
And lets not forget: Poland has a very Catholic population, and do not think that this does not aggravate the Lutheran Christian Democrats in the upper echelons of European power. At the end of the day, the struggle is between those who are for God, and those who are for evil.