Authors

Object ID

2022.1.16

Object Name

Identification

Date

5-21-1943

Files

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Description

Identification sheet with printed text at top left “CONSULADO GENERAL DE ESPANA EN ATENAS”, top right includes adhered black and white photograph of female with purple handstamp covering lower corner, bottom left includes adhered stamps and handstamps.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:

Rachel Pinhas de Saltiel and her husband Mentech Saltiel y Saporta, both of Spanish descent, belonged to the ancient Sephardi community of diaspora Jews in Thessaloniki, Greece, whose origin could be traced to the Spanish Expulsion of 1492. Sebastian de Romero Radigales- Consul General of Spain in Athens- used his authority to try to protect the Sephardi Jews who were being deported from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz (48,000 Jews deported between March and August, 1943), invoking a 1924 decree which gave Sephardi Jews of the diaspora-descendants of the Spanish Expulsion of 1492- a right to Spanish citizenship. Romero Radigales made repeated demands on the German ambassador that Jews with Spanish heritage should not be deported, but rather repatriated to their country of origin. Ironically, he found the Germans amenable to this, while Spain’s Francoist regime resisted his efforts to repatriate Jews from Thessalonica who had Spanish citizenship, the 1924 decree notwithstanding.

In August 1943, the Germans identified 367 Jews with Spanish citizenship who were subsequently interned in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from August, 1943 to February 1944, to be used for a possible trade with the Allies. The group included Rachel Saltiel and her husband Mentech. Heated negotiations occurred between Spanish diplomats and German authorities until Romero Radigales was able to change his own government’s position and allow these Belsen interns to be transferred to Spanish Morocco.

To the Germans Romero Radigales would continue to be perceived as demanding and difficult, chronically interfering with their work. However, for his unwavering devotion to the Sephardic Jews of Athens and Thessalonica, and his repeated efforts at saving Jewish lives, Sebastian de Romero Radigales would be honored as Righteous Among the Nations. His signature appears on this document as Consul General of Spain in Athens.

[See related item: 2022.1.56]

Dimensions

9 x 6"

Keywords

Rachel Pinhas de Saltiel, Sebastian de Romero Radigales, Bergen Belsen

Subcollection

Diplomats, Thessaloniki

Life Saving ID Issued To Sephardi Jew Rachel Pinhas de Saltiel by Sebastian de Romero Radigales, Consul General of Spain in Athens, Greece During German Occupation

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