Dr. Helmy – Hero of the Holocaust

Stand for Israel  |  January 4, 2022

Dr. Mohamed Helmy (second from right) and Anna Boros Gutman (second from left), 1969
(Photo: Yad Vashem)

An Egyptian physician in Berlin, Dr. Mohamed Helmy saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

Born in Egypt in 1901, Mohamed Helmy went to Germany in the 1920s for medical school. After graduation, Dr. Helmy settled in Berlin, where he headed a hospital’s urology department.

In 1933, Dr. Helmy watched as the Nazis dismissed his Jewish colleagues from the hospital. At first, the Egyptian doctor was not fired – Nazi racial policy considered him a descendant of Ham, the son of Noah – but did face discrimination because of his own ethnicity. But in 1938, the Nazis did fire Dr. Helmy, not allowing him to marry his German fiance, and arresting him in 1939 and 1940 because of his nationality.

But despite the persecution he faced, Dr. Helmy still spoke out against the Nazis and their policies. And the good doctor acted on his beliefs, as well, hiding Jews.

Throughout the war, Dr. Helmy hid a Jewish friend of his, Anna Boros, as well as her entire family, in a cabin he owned in Berlin. The Nazis suspected the cabin as a hiding place, frequently interrogating Dr. Helmy. After the war, Anna recalled:

He managed to evade all their interrogations. In such cases he would bring me to friends where I would stay for several days, introducing me as his cousin from Dresden. When the danger would pass, I would return to his cabin… Dr. Helmy did everything for me out of the generosity of his heart and I will be grateful to him for eternity.

Thanks to the doctor’s courage, Anna and her family survived the war. Above, you can see Anna and her friend during a 1969 visit. Dr. Helmy died in 1982, but after his death Yad Vashem honored him as the first Arab to be named Righteous Among the Nations.

And just this week, The Times of Israel’s Robert Philpot looks further into this heroic Holocaust story:

One day in 1943, Mohamed Helmy, an Egyptian doctor who had lived in Germany for more than two decades, received a terrifying summons. Alongside his niece, Nadia, he was to report to the Prinz Albrecht Hotel, the notorious Berlin headquarters of the SS.

When they arrived, Helmy and Nadia were ushered into a room containing a crowd of several dozen men. At its center stood Amin al-Husseini, the virulently antisemitic, pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who had been the Third Reich’s guest of honor for the past two years and its most high-profile symbol of Hitler’s efforts to court the Muslim world. Trusted by the Nazis, Helmy now discovered the reason for the unexplained summons: he was needed to provide his fellow Muslims with medical care.

But as German journalist Ronen Steinke writes in his new book, the encounter was far from all it seemed — for Helmy was no Nazi sympathizer, and the teenager accompanying him was neither his niece nor a Muslim, but 17-year-old Anna Boros, a Jewish girl hunted by the Gestapo who the doctor had been secretly sheltering for the past year…

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