ADL Mourns The Passing of Turkish 'Righteous Gentile'
New York, N.Y., June 13, 2003 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) mourns the passing of Mr. Mehmet Selahattin Ulkemen, the World War II-era Turkish Consul General in Rhodes, France, and the only Turk to be awarded the honor of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel for his work in rescuing Jews of Turkish origin.
In a statement regarding Mr. Ulkemen's death, Glen A. Tobias, ADL National Chairman and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said:
We are saddened by the passing of Mehmet Selahattin Ulkemen, who courageously acted at the height of the slaughter of the Holocaust to save the lives of 42 Turkish Jews and prevent them being deported to Germany, and almost certain death. Due to its neutrality during most of World War II, and its unique geographical proximity to both Europe and the Middle East, Turkey and Turkish diplomats living abroad played an important role for European Jews in danger during World War II and the Holocaust.
By defying direct orders from a Nazi general in Occupied France, Mr. Ulkemen saved Jews at the risk of his own life and that of his family.
The story of rescue, like the stories of survival and resistance, is crucial to remember to preserve the legacy of the Holocaust.
Mr. Ulkemen's role in saving Turkish Jews living abroad was the subject of a 2002 documentary film Desperate Hours.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.