(October 1, 2021 / JNS) A new campaign by The Jewish Chronicle calls for a British spy who saved 10,000 Austrian Jews during World War II to be recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile.
“It is not about how many lives but this man has received no recognition for quite literally saving Austria’s Jewish community—I think it is as simple as that,” said historian Helen Fry, who wrote about Col. Thomas Joseph Kendrick in the new biography Spymaster. “That is why I think it is important that people know his story. It has not fully come out yet, and that is why it is marvelous that the JC is running this campaign to get him the recognition he deserves. It is long overdue.”
In late August, Fry submitted an application to Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center for Kendrick’s recognition as a Righteous Gentile. The application features written testimonies about his actions and documentary evidence about how he also helped 2,000 Jews flee to Rhodesia and Kenya.
Kendrick, who has been dubbed “Austria’s Oskar Schindler,” was the station chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in Vienna in 1925. He sent intelligence back to the British Foreign Office under the guise of being the passport control officer at the British Consulate.
The Nazis annexed Austria on March 12, 1938; by April, more than 7,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
Kendrick and his team worked 15-hour days to process up to 175 applications daily to help Jews escape Austria, explained The Jewish Chronicle. He stamped 1,000 visas to Palestine for young men to “attend a sports camp,” added names of children to the passports of British businessmen traveling to the United Kingdom, issued false passports and handed out permits to Jews who received fake baptisms, said the publication.
After a double agent sold them out to the Gestapo, Kendrick and his wife, Norah, fled Austria and narrowly missed an assassination attempt on their lives. He was arrested by the Gestapo, but later freed and returned to Britain, where he continued his operations.
On May 23, 1945, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
Kendrick settled in Surrey, England. He died in 1972 at the age of 90.
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