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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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