The Secretary Who Saved Countless Jews
The Fellowship | June 3, 2015
Life: December 5, 1908 – February 28, 2011
Why you should know her: Aracy de Carvalho was born in 1908 in Rio Negro, Brazil. Able to speak German, English, French, and her native Portuguese, she worked as a secretary in the Brazilian Consulate in Hamburg, Germany, in the 1930s. As Chief of the Passport Section, Aracy was in the perfect position to do good when Kristallnacht occurred in 1938. As the Nazis began to persecute the Jewish people of Germany, Aracy began to help them.
Brazil’s dictator’s unofficial policy was to deny visas for Jews, so Aracy began handing out visas without the identifying red “J” to Jewish people looking to flee the Nazis. In addition to providing visas, Aracy gave these people financial assistance in order to escape to Brazil, even helping them bring their belongings with them.
In 1940, Aracy married the Brazilian diplomat and writer João Guimarães Rosa. Together, the couple increased their aid to Germany’s Jews, saving many from imprisonment and certain death, before Brazil broke off relations with Germany two years later, and recalled Aracy and her husband. But during her four years, Aracy de Carvalho Guimarães Rosa was not only a secretary and a diplomat, but a lifeline for countless German Jews. For this, she was named Righteous Among the Nations in 1982. After suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Aracy passed away at the age of 102 in 2011 in São Paulo, Brazil.