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U.N. Honors Diplomats Who Saved Others During HolocaustAired April 10, 2000 - 2:54 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And finally, a story about the true kindness of strangers. Diplomats generally are known for playing it safe in carrying out their government's wishes. During World War II, however, many courageous diplomats risked punishment by issuing visas to thousands of Jews, enabling them to escape the fate of Nazi concentration camps. The U.N. is honoring some 84 of those men and women with a new exhibit.
ERIC SAUL, CURATOR: We know about Hitter. We know about him and we know about the monsters who killed millions. But we don't know about the heroes. And now we're discovering that there were many, many more rescuers of Jews than we knew.
We estimate that about 300,000 Jews got illegal visas from more than 80 men and women and that these men and women have never been recognized. We also estimate that there may be as many as 500,000 to half a million descendants.
JOHN PAUL ABRANCHES, PORTUGUESE DIPLOMAT'S SON: That was my father, and I am very proud to be one of his sons. My father did what he did because, as he said, I'd rather be with God against man than with man against God. And that meant that the instructions that he had were immoral, inhumane, and he would not comply with them.
ZELMAN MUSHOFSKY, VISA RECIPIENT: Good morning. My name is Zelman Mushofsky (ph). I received a visa from Junas Sugihawa (ph) in Kosno (ph) in the summer of 1940. And that's why I survived. Thank you.
ENRICO MANDEL-MANTELLO, SALVADORAN DIPLOMAT'S SON: For me, there's no satisfaction for my father -- I wish he were here -- than seeing this lady walk up to me and say, so your documents (UNINTELLIGIBLE). My mother and I were saved by this. So I think that's a very important lesson to humanity.
KATHARINA POLAK, VISA RECIPIENT: I didn't know about this document until after my mother died in 1980 and I found it among my father's papers. I never knew we were saved by this.
SYLVIAN BROMBERGER, VISA RECIPIENT: I think it's extremely important. I think we grieve the people who were killed and murdered, and we must grieve them. And we damn the people who did it -- and they should be damned. But we forget the people who actually had the courage under those circumstances to save others. And those are the people we must remember. Because if there's anybody to emulate in that whole horrible story, it's those people.
SAUL: The moral of the story is that one person can make a difference. One person with a rubber stamp and a pen and a piece of paper can save a human life.
ALLEN: Visas for Life: The Righteous Diplomats is on display in the lobby of the U.N. headquarters through the end of the month.
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