11 December 1901
|Died||25 April 1992 (aged 90)|
|Resting place||Jerusalem, Israel|
|Known for||Rescue of Jews during the Holocaust|
George Mantello (11 December 1901 – 25 April 1992), a businessman with various diplomatic activities, born into a Jewish family from Transylvania, helped save thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust while working for the Salvadoran consulate in Geneva, Switzerland from 1942 to 1945 under the protection of consul Castellanos Contreras, by providing them with fictive Salvadoran citizenship papers. He publicized in mid-1944 the deportation of Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, which had great impact on rescue and was a major contributing factor to Hungary's regent Miklós Horthy stopping the transports to Auschwitz.
During Mantello's youth, Transylvania was part of Hungary, itself part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; after the First World War it became part of Romania, but in 1940 Hungary recovered the northern part of the historical region, including Mantello's birth region, thanks to the Second Vienna Award. Both Hungary and Romania were allies of Nazi Germany, and Mantello had to first use all his remarkable skills and connections to save himself, his wife and his child from Nazi deportation by escaping to Switzerland.
Mantello was born György Mandl to Orthodox Jewish parents – Baruch Yehudah Mandl and Ida Mandl (née Spitz) – in Lekence, Kingdom of Hungary (today Lechința, Romania), in the historical region of Transylvania, with mainly Romanian, Hungarian and German ethnic inhabitants, which changed hands three times between Hungary and Romania during the 20th century. David Kranzler writes that his paternal grandfather was a rabbi, R. Yitzchok Yaakov Mandl, that his father owned a mill, and that the family was regarded as well-to-do. Mantello had three sisters and two brothers, one of whom, Josef Mandl, became involved in Mandl-Mantello's rescue work.
Second World War
Mantello became a textiles manufacturer in Bucharest, where he met Salvadoran consul Colonel José Arturo Castellanos in the 1930s. After escaping to Switzerland from Romania, he went to work for Castellanos at the Salvadoran consulate in Geneva as First Secretary. He and Colonel Castellanos issued a large number of Salvadoran certificates which were smuggled into Nazi occupied territories and saved many Jews.
In 1944 he became involved in the effort to halt the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. Mantello sent his friend, a diplomat from Romania, Florian Manoliu, to Hungary, in order to find out what was happening there. Manoliu went to Budapest, obtained reports from Swiss vice-Consul Carl Lutz on 19 June 1944, and immediately returned with the reports to Geneva. One of the reports was probably Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl's abridged 5-page version of the full 33-page Auschwitz Protocols: both the Vrba–Wetzler report and Rosin-Mordowicz report. The reports described in detail the operations of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
In contrast to many leaders who received these reports and failed to act on them, with much help from Swiss Pastor Paul Vogt Mantello publicized the details within a day of receiving them. This triggered a significant grass roots protest in Switzerland, including Sunday masses, street protests, and the Swiss press campaign; over 400 headlines in the Swiss press demanded (against censorship rules) an end to the deportations. Pastor Paul Vogt wrote a bestseller Soll ich meines Bruders Hütter sein? (Am I my brother's keeper? - reference to Cain and Abel in the Bible).
The report's publication and large scale very vocal protests in Switzerland resulted in Winston Churchill's letter:"There is no doubt that this persecution of Jews in Hungary and their expulsion from enemy territory is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world...."  As a result of the press coverage, world leaders issued appeals and warnings to Hungary's Regent, Miklós Horthy, and the mass transports, which had been deporting 12,000 Jews every day since 15 May 1944, ended on 9 July 1944. The lull in deportations made it possible to organize significant rescue activities in Hungary, such as the Raoul Wallenberg and Carl Lutz missions.
In recognition of his great contributions to his rescue activities, Mantello received an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University, New York. Nota bene: the fact that György Mandl/George Mantello was Jewish made him ineligible for the title "Righteous Among the Nations" conferred by Israel to non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
- Kranzler, David (2000). The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador and Switzerland's Finest Hour. Syracuse University Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 0815628730.
- Tschuy, Theo (1998) . Carl Lutz und die Juden von Budapest. Zürich: NZZ-Verlag. pp. 145–159. ISBN 9783858237538. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
- "George Mandel-Mantello" The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
- David Kranzler (2000). The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador, and Switzerland's Finest Hour. Syracuse University Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8156-2873-6.
- Winston Churchill, in a letter to his Foreign Secretary dated July 11, 1944, wrote, "There is no doubt that this persecution of Jews in Hungary and their expulsion from enemy territory is probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world...." "Winston Churchill's The Second World War and the Holocaust's Uniqueness" Archived July 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Istvan Simon.
- Daniels, Lee A. (6 May 1992). "George Mandel-Montello Is Dead; Special Envoy, 90, Rescued Jews (Published 1992)". The New York Times.
Some recorded talks and music
- George Mandel-Mantello and his Mission to Rescue Europe's Jews (Curators Corner #7)
- Glass House
- David Kranzler z"l - Four Jewish Rescuers.
- International Rescuer Day 2006 at Hebrew University - Dr. David Kranzler - Rescue by Swiss People
- Prof. David Kranzler: Rescue by El Salvador, its diplomat George Mantello & Swiss People (Feb 2003)
- Prof. David Kranzler: George Mantello, a Jewish Wallenberg who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz
- The Rescuers (song)
- Burns, Margie. "El Salvador, a rescuing country" (profile of Mantello), International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
- Embassy of El Salvador in Israel. "El Salvador and the Holocaust: An almost unknown chapter in the history of El Salvador."
- Kimche, Jon. "The war's unpaid debt Of honour: How El Salvador saved tens of thousands Of Jews," Jewish Observer and Middle East Review.
- Kranzler, David (1991). "Three who tried to stop the Holocaust". Judaica Book News. 18 (1): 14–16, 70–76. On Rabbi Michael-Ber Weissmandl, Recha Sternbuch and George Mantello
- Lamperti, John. "El Salvador's Holocaust Hero", personal website.
- Lévai, Jenö. Zsidósors Európában, Budapest, 1948 (Hungarian)
- Lévai, Jenö. "Abscheu und Grauen vor dem Genocid in aller Welt", Toronto 1968 (German)
- Meyer, Ernie. "The Unknown Hero: One sympathetic foreign diplomat saved thousands of Jews in Europe by providing them with foreign citizenship papers."
- Meyer, Ernie. "The greatest rescue of the Holocaust."
- Pineda, Rafael Ángel Alfaro. "El Salvador and Schindler's list: A valid comparison," Raoul Wallenberg web site.