Carl Lutz

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Carl Lutz (30 March 1895, Walzenhausen - 12 February 1975, Bern) was the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary from 1942 until the end of World War II.

After working for Swiss consulates in the U.S. and, at the beginning of World War II in Palestine (where he represented Germany, which had broken diplomatic relationships with Britain), Lutz was appointed as Vice-Consul at the Swiss embassy in Budapest in 1942.

He had the initiative to save Hungarian Jews from deportation by allowing them to emigrate to Palestine under protection of a Swiss safe-conduct. After the German Putsch in March 1944, the situation rapidly deteriorated as the SS were carrying out the systematic deportation of Jews. His idea was to claim extraterritorial immunity for several buildings in Budapest, where many Jews were hosted, and to extend each single safe-conduct to a whole family.

Together with other diplomats of neutral countries, such as Raoul Wallenberg, appointed at the Swedish embassy, Angelo Rotta, the Apostolic nuncio, Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian businessman working at the Spanish embassy, and Friedrich Born, the Swiss delegate of the International Red Cross Committee, Lutz worked relentlessly for many months to prevent the planned death of innocent people, dodging the action of their German and Hungarian counterparts. Thanks to his diplomatic skills he succeeded in persuading Hungarian and Nazi-German officials, among them Adolf Eichmann to tolerate, at least in part, his formal protection on Hungarian Jews.

His engagement allowed the lives of tens of thousands of people to be saved. However, similarly to Paul Grüninger, his achievements were not recognized until 1958, when he was "rehabilitated" in Switzerland, after having been accused of having exceeded his authority. In 1963 a street was named after Lutz in Haifa, Israel, and since 1991 a memorial at the entrance to the old Budapest ghetto remembers him. In 1965 Lutz was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

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Carl Lutz

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