New York, NY, September 21, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) hailed the beatification by the Vatican of a Hungarian nun who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Beatification can be the first step to sainthood, and ADL said Sister Sara Salkahazi was deserving of the honor, "for risking and eventually giving her life to save Jews in peril."
"The honor bestowed by Pope Benedict XVI on Sister Sara Salkahazi for risking and eventually giving her life to save Jews in peril is an important statement by the church," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
"It is unfortunate that there were not more individuals like Sister Sara, but her example must be held up to demonstrate how lives can be saved when good people take action to confront evil," added Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor saved by his Polish Catholic nanny.
Mr. Foxman noted that Salkahazi's deeds were recognized in 1972 by Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, on the recommendation of the daughter of one of the Jewish women killed with her.
Sister Sara was instrumental in helping to hide Jews in a Budapest building used by her religious order, the Sisters of Social Service. The order is credited with saving the lives of some 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. About 100 were aided by Salkahazi herself, who was the national director of Hungarian Catholic Working Women's Movement.
On Dec. 27, 1944 she was killed by the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian allies of the Nazis. She was taken along with several other occupants of the home and shot, their bodies falling into the Danube River and never recovered. Details of her death were revealed in the 1967 trial of some Arrow Cross henchmen.
Some 550,000 Jews and 50,000 Roma died during the Holocaust in Hungary. Historians say one-third of all the victims killed by the Nazis in the Auschwitz concentration camp were Hungarian.