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WWII Jews Rescued from Nazis

How the Philippines outsmarted Nazis

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines became a refuge for 1,300 Jews rescued

 

from Nazi Germany in the middle of World War II—a little known piece of history

 

that contributed to the country’s healthy ties with Israel to this day. The

 

ingenious plan that led to one of the Holocaust’s most daring rescues was hatched

 

in a poker game. The tale started when five Frieder brothers, who were American

 

cigar makers asked poker buddies, Filipino President Manuel Quezon, US High

 

Commissioner Paul McNutt and US Army Col. Dwight Eisenhower, to embark on a

 

mission to bring thousands of Jewish refugees to the Philippines. The Israel

 

Embassy in Manila says that while many countries turned their backs on the Jews,

 

the Philippines did not.

 

“Manuel L. Quezon opened the doors of his country as he shared the same

 

sentiments with the Frieder brothers, McNutt and Eisenhower on the right to live

 

and it was simply the right thing to do to help their fellowmen who needed help,”

 

the embassy said in a statement Friday. Related: Filipino hospitality saved 1,300

 

Jews Quezon, meanwhile, knew the rescue would be a worthy precedent for the

 

coming generations. “The people of the Philippines will have in the future every

 

reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was willing to

 

extend a hand of welcome.” The rescue and the refugees’ subsequent life in the

 

Philippines, which afterwards was itself ravaged under the Japanese occupation,

 

are told in a documentary that premiered at the Malacañan Palace on Thursday

 

with President Aquino as host. In his message during the screening of “Rescue in

 

the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust” produced by 3 Roads

 

Communications, Aquino said the Jewish escape in Manila tells of the imperative

 

of all men to take a stand against wrongdoing. “The measure of our humanity is

 

our ability to give of ourselves, even, and perhaps most importantly, when it

 

hurts,” he said. The event was also graced by US Ambassador Philip Goldberg,

 

Israel Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Adam Levene, Undersecretary for the

 

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning office Manuel

 

Quezon III and his family as well as Cabinet officials. image President Aquino is

 

joined by Nini Quezon-Avanceña, daughter of the late President Manuel Quezon,

 

during the screening of “Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust” in

 

Malacañang on Thursday. Malacañang Photo Bureau/Ryan Lim Producers Russel

 

Hodge and Cynthia Scott said it took them two years to film the documentary,

 

which they said, by far one of the most gratifying things they have accomplished

 

in their lifetime. The people behind the film and Jewish organizations also

 

arranged for the donation of $2.5 million worth of prosthetics as well as raised

 

about $1.4 million for victims of typhoon Yolanda that flattened out Eastern

 

Visayas areas last November.

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