January 29, 2008 - United Nations, NYC


Carl Lutz and the Legendary Glass House

Exhibit opening and reception

Photos: Gabriella Gyorffy

Kiyo Akasaka, Master of Ceremonies
Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
Mr. Akasaka will delivered a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Statements by:

H.E. Mr. Adrian Neritani
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Albania to the United Nations

Yehudit Shendar
Deputy Director and Senior Art Curator of the Museums Division
Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Authority (Jerusalem)

Norman Gershman
Photographer of the Besa: A Code of Honor exhibit

Peter Vamos on behalf of his father, György Vámos,
President of the Carl Lutz Foundation (Budapest)

Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Holocaust survivor, spiritual leader of the Park East Synagogue NYC
and president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
Schneier fled in November of 1938 from Vienna to Budapest,
where he survived the Holocaust.

In the background: leaders of the Hungarian Socialist Party delegation
Attila Mesterházy, László Teleki and H.E. Gábor Bródi
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Hungary to the UN

Kiyo Akasaka, Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Mrs. Schneier

Kiyo Akasaka, Péter and György Vámos


Exhibition co-sponsored by the Carl Lutz Foundation
and the Permanent Missions of Switzerland and Hungary

Carl Lutz is credited with saving the lives of 62,000 Jews from the Holocaust by issuing “letters of protection,” a life-saving diplomatic device of his own invention. In addition, he helped 10,000 Jewish children emigrate to Palestine after he became head of Switzerland’s foreign interests section in Budapest in 1942. By 1944, Lutz represented 12 countries in addition to Switzerland, including the United States.

Born in Switzerland in 1895, Lutz emigrated at the age of 18 to the United States, where he was to remain for more than 20 years. Appointed in 1942 as Swiss vice-consul in Budapest, Hungary, Lutz soon began cooperating with the Jewish Agency for Palestine, issuing Swiss safe-conduct documents enabling Jewish children to emigrate.
Once the Nazis took over Budapest in 1944 and began deporting Jews to the death camps, Lutz negotiated a special deal with the Hungarian government and the Nazis: he had permission to issue protective letters to 8,000 Hungarian Jews for emigration to Palestine.

Lutz then deliberately misinterpreted his permission for 8,000 as applying to families rather than individuals, and proceeded to issue tens of thousands of additional protective letters, all of them bearing a number between one and 8,000. He also set up some 76 safe houses around Budapest, declaring them annexes of the Swiss legation. Among the safe houses the most famous one was the Glass House, an old glass factory building at Vadász utca 29. Over 3,000 Jews found refuge and protection from their prosecutors at the Glass House during World War II. The Glasshouse is now open for visitors as a museum, that is documenting the history of Carl Lutz and his actvities.

After the war, Lutz was initially reprimanded for having gone too far in his efforts, but was vindicated and honored by the Swiss government in 1957. He retired from the Swiss consular service in 1961.

For risking his life to help Jews during the Holocaust, Lutz in 1964 became the first Swiss national named “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, the Jewish people’s memorial to the Holocaust.

Lutz died in Bern, Switzerland, in 1975.

At the entrance to the old Budapest ghetto, a wall-monument was erected to him in 1991. Although more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, 125,000 survived, half of them thanks to the efforts of Carl Lutz.

Source: Hungarian Embassy, FDFA Switzerland

Kiyo Akasaka and György Vámos, President of Carl Lutz Foundation

Rabbi Arthur Schneier and György Vámos

Discussion among Rabbi Schneier and the Hungarian Socialist Party
delegation leaders Attila Mesterházy and László Teleki

Attila Mesterházy, László Teleki, H.E. Gábor Bródi, H. E. Mr. Peter Maurer (The Permanent Representative of Switzerland), Rabbi Arthur Schneier, György Vámos, Péter Vámos, Vilmos Szabó, Zsolt Török

H.E. Gábor Bródi, Kiyo Akasaka, György Vámos, and Péter Vámos

Muslim Albanians who Rescued Jews during the Holocaust

Photographer: Norman Gershman

Exhibition authored and curated by Yad Vashem,
The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority and sponsored
by the Permanent Mission of Albania to the United Nations

Norman Gershman photographer

Related links:

United Nations

Hungarian Consulate General and UN Mission
New York - gimagine photo reports