Dr. Albert Battel – A Righteous Gentile from Germany
The Fellowship | March 23, 2021
A German attorney and army officer during World War II, Dr. Albert Battel resisted the Nazi plans to liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Przemysl, Poland, during the Holocaust.
Born in 1891 in Prussian Silesia, Albert Battel served in the German army during the First World War. After the war, he studied economics and law in Germany and Poland, becoming an attorney.
At the age of fifty-one, the Nazis called up Dr. Battel from the reserves during World War II. Sent to serve in the southern Polish city of Przemysl, Dr. Battel witnessed the impending SS liquidation of the Jewish ghetto and its inhabitants. Battel ordered blocked the bridge the SS prepared to cross. When the SS attempted to cross, Battel warned they would be fired upon.
This defiance of Nazi protocol to liquidate and murder Polish Jews was not Dr. Battel’s only act of bravery and goodness. The very same day, he used Nazi trucks to evacuate and rescue 100 Jewish families. These Jews – unlike the others in the Przemysl ghetto, including the “Polish Anne Frank,” ultimately murdered at the Belzec extermination camp – he sheltered and saved.
The highest levels of the Nazi regime carried out an investigation into Dr. Battel’s actions – which included a history of kindness to the Jewish people. Heinrich Himmler expelled Battel from the Nazi party and planned to arrest him at the end of WWII. Before that could happen, of course, the war’s end found Himmler biting into a hidden suicide pill. And before that, Dr. Battel had been discharged from service because of poor health.
With the war over, Albert Battel first fell into Soviet captivity. Once released, he couldn’t practice law again, and died in 1952. History forgot his brave acts that saved so many Jews from certain death until after his passing. But thanks to the research of Israeli lawyer Dr. Zeev Goshen, Yad Vashem at last Dr. Albert Battel honored as Righteous Among the Nations in 1981.