Yad Vashem names first Egyptian ‘Righteous Among the Nations’

Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) For the first time, Yad Vashem has honored an Egyptian with the “Righteous Among the Nations” designation, which recognizes non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews.

Physician Dr. Mohamed Helmy, the honoree, was born in Khartoum, Sudan in 1901 to Egyptian parents and later went to Germany in 1922 to study medicine. Due to Nazi racial laws, Helmy was classified as a “Hamit” (after Ham, son of Noah)—a 19th century racial term used to describe Arabs—and was discriminated against. In 1939, along with other Egyptians, he was arrested but later released due to health problems.

Yad Vashem will honor Helmy posthumously. A vocal critic of Nazi policies, he helped his family friend, 21-year-old Anna Boros (later Gutman), avoid Nazi deportations. Helmy also helped Gutman’s mother, stepfather, and grandmother.

Posted on September 30, 2013 .