Uncle Tibor, a Holocaust Hero

The Fellowship  |  January 29, 2019

In the above video posted recently to Facebook, we learn about a Righteous Gentile, Tibor Baranski, who selflessly saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. And in this moving piece in The Times of Israel after Baranski’s recent passing, Steve Lipman gives a personal look at this Advocate and Ally for the Jewish people:

Uncle Tibor — it would sound unnatural to refer to him here as Mr. Baranski, which is this newspaper’s usual practice in articles of this type — was a hero of the Holocaust. It would be an exaggeration to call someone who was recognized by Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile and won several awards from Jewish organizations an unsung hero, but never seeking accolades, he never achieved the same level of fame as someone like Raoul Wallenberg, with whom he worked during World War II saving Jews from the Nazis.

Uncle Tibor, in 1944 a young priest-in-training, did for the Papal Nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador in Budapest, just what Wallenberg, the Swedish scion of a wealthy banking family, did for the Swedish embassy. He set up safe houses for endangered Jews, printed meaningless but-official-looking and lifesaving passes that impressed Nazi soldiers, pulled Jews out of roundups and defyied Nazi officials, risking his life.

Understanding the Nazi mentality, he borrowed the Papal Nuncio’s impressive-looking diplomatic vehicle, a Rolls Royce, and using a combination of bluster, bravado, theatrics and abusive language he ordinarily would not use, outwitted and out-thought Nazi soldiers and anti-Semitic Arrow Cross members.

“I worked night and day and got very little sleep. Some days I didn’t have a second to eat,” he would say. He was 22 then. Besides the grace of God … I had some courage and some organizational abilities.”

Why did he risk his life?

“Because the physical life is nothing.”

Uncle Tibor was credited with saving 3,000 Jews. Maybe more. “My Jews,” he called them…

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