ADL Honors Spanish Diplomat Who Saved Jews & Others During Holocaust
Washington, D.C., April 14, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) posthumously honored a Spanish diplomat who defied orders and courageously risked his life to save hundreds of Jews and others in France during the Holocaust.
Eduardo Propper de Callejón received the ADL Courage to Care Award, which honors rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era. The award was accepted by Eduardo's son, Felipe Propper de Cajellón, during the League's National Leadership Conference in Washington, DC.
"Eduardo Propper de Callejón was an individual who followed the call of conscience," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, who presented the award. "He had more than enough reason to stay silent and quietly tend his own garden. Instead, day and night he sat at his desk stamping visas with both hands. Eduardo Propper de Callejón's courageous, unapproved initiatives and noble actions damaged a most promising career. He demonstrated a moral courage to which most of us can only aspire."
Eduardo's son, Felipe Propper de Callejón, accepted the award on his father's behalf. "We are all one family, one humanity," said Propper de Callejón, "and we have to respond to that fact. And my father responded. He held the strong conviction that saving people's lives from an oncoming rush of evil was the only thing to do, even if that affected him negatively. My father did what he was felt was right and he did it with no fuss."
Spain's Ambassador to the United States, Carlos Westendorp, attended the award ceremony and praised Eduardo Propper de Callejón for his selflessness. "He issued thousands of visas to Jews and devised an ingenious method for them to escape via Spain," said Amb. Westendorp. "On behalf of the entire Spanish nation, thank you very much Eduardo, may you rest in peace."
Eduardo Propper de Callejón was the First Secretary at the Spanish Embassy in Paris in 1940 when the French government, fearful of the approaching Germans, left the capital for Bordeaux. The diplomatic corps followed, including Propper de Callejón and his young family.
The Spanish Ambassador asked Propper de Callejón to take care of the thousands of panic-stricken individuals that had surrounded the Spanish consulate in hopes of securing a transit visa to Spain, which would allow them entry into Portugal. Realizing he could not wait for prior approval of the Madrid authorities who operated as part of Francisco Franco's pro-German Regime, Propper de Callejón began issuing "special visas"
For three frenetic days in June 1940, Propper de Callejón issued thousands of visas to refugees, many of them Jewish (his father and wife were Jewish). The refugees crossed over the border from France to Spain, then on to Portugal, where they could possibly escape. All day and night he sat at his desk stamping visas.
When Propper de Callejón left France in February 1941, he was demoted and sent to Spanish Morocco. Even though his last posts in the Spanish diplomatic service were as Ambassador, he was still receiving the salary of a "Minister First Class" when he left.
In March 2008, Yad Vashem conferred the title Righteous Among the Nations upon Eduardo Propper de Callejón for his efforts save live during the Holocaust.
Past recipients of the ADL Courage to Care Award include: Khaled Abdelwahhab, Ernst Leitz II, Mefail and Njazi Bicaku, Hiram Bingham IV, Sir Nicholas Winton, Konstantin Koslovsky, Jan and Miep Gies, Aristides De Sousa Mendes, Jan Karski, Selahattin Ulkumen, Chiune Sugihara, the French town of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, Emilie and Oskar Schindler, The Partisans of Riccione, Italy and Johanna Vos. The ADL Courage to Care Program is sponsored by a generous grant from Eileen Ludwig Greenland.
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.