Gilberto Bosques Saldívar

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Gilberto Bosques Saldívar
Gilberto Bosques.jpg
Personal details
Born(1892-07-20)20 July 1892
Chiautla de Tapia, Puebla, Mexico
Died4 July 1995(1995-07-04) (aged 102)
Mexico City, Mexico
NationalityMexico Mexican
Spouse(s)María Luisa Manjarrez
ChildrenLaura María, María Teresa and Gilberto Froylán
OccupationDiplomat, politician, journalist

Gilberto Bosques Saldívar (b. Chiautla de Tapia, Puebla, 20 July 1892 – 4 July 1995) was a Mexican career diplomat and before that a militant in the Mexican Revolution and a leftist legislator. As a consul in Marseille, Vichy France, Bosques[1] took initiative to rescue tens of thousands of Jews and Spanish Republican exiles from being deported to Nazi Germany or Spain, but his heroism remained unknown to the world at large for some sixty years, until several years after his death at the age of 102 (not 103, as sometimes reported). For about two decades after World War II, Bosques served as Mexico's ambassador to several countries. Since 2003, international recognition has been accruing to him. In 1944, he described his efforts thus: "I followed the policy of my country, of material and moral support to the heroic defenders of the Spanish Republic, the stalwart paladins of the struggle against Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Petain, and Laval."[2]

In 2010, a documentary film about him was produced in Mexico, directed by Lillian Lieberman, titled Visa al paraíso (Visa to Paradise).[3]

Early years[edit]

Gilberto Bosques Saldívar was born in Chiautla, a mountain village in southern portion of the state of Puebla, southwest of Mexico City. At the age of 17, he took up arms in the Mexican Revolution under the command of Aquiles Serdán Alatriste, the first martyr of the Revolution. Bosques organized the First National Pedagogy Congress (Primer Congreso Nacional Pedagógico), and worked as a journalist with several newspapers and publications.[4]

He went on to serve as a state legislator in Puebla and as a federal deputy on two occasions: 1922-1923 and again in 1934-1937. In the latter period, he belonged to a bloc of legislators supporting the new president, general Lázaro Cárdenas (from 1934 to 1940).[5] He was the President of the Chamber of Deputies in 1935.[6] In 1938, he was the director of the government owned newspaper, El Nacional.

Mexican Consul in France during World War II[edit]

Bosques was stationed in France from 1939–1943, coinciding with most of World War II, initially as Mexico's Consul General. Fleeing the German occupation of Paris in May 1940, Bosques was instructed by his government to organize a consulate to represent Mexico in Vichy France, which he set up in Marseille. Once Nazi Germany had occupied France and entrusted much of the governance of the country to Vichy France, he directed consular employees to issue a visa to anybody wanting to flee to Mexico. Under his auspices, visas were issued to approximately 40,000 people, mostly Jews and Spaniards. The Spaniards rescued were refugees from Francoist Spain after the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War in April 1939. Bosques rented a castle and a summer holiday camp in Marseilles to house refugees under the protection of what he maintained was Mexican territory under International Law.[7] In 1943, Bosques, his family (wife and three children), and 40 consular staff members were arrested by the Gestapo and detained in Germany for a year. He was released under an agreement between the German and Mexican governments after Manuel Ávila Camacho (then President of Mexico from 1940 to 1946), imprisoned German citizens in Mexican prisons and made an exchange of prisoners.[8]

Post-World War II[edit]

In the decades after his release from German captivity, he served as Ambassador of Mexico in Portugal, Finland, Sweden and Cuba. In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bosques — who was both a personal friend of Fidel Castro and the diplomatic representative of a neutral country trusted by the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba, worked to facilitate communications between the disputants and bring Cuba into agreement with the "face-saving" agreements worked out between the two nuclear powers.[9] Bosques Saldívar died just days short of his 103rd birthday.

Bosques's feat in saving nearly 40,000 people from execution by the Third Reich or Francoist Spain went unrecognized even among specialists in the history of rescuers of Jews until after 2000, and especially the year 2008. At an award ceremony held in Beverly Hills, California, on 13 November 2008, the United States organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) gave him the Courage to Care Award, created in 1987 to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust Era.[10][11] But this was not the first major posthumous recognition given to him. He was memorialized in Vienna on 4 June 2003 by having a street in the 22nd district named after him: the Gilberto-Bosques-Promenade.[12] More recently, in 2007 a photographic exhibition in his honor was mounted at the Jewish and Holocaust History Museum[13] in the Condesa neighborhood in Mexico city.[14] In 2008 this exhibition traveled to Xalapa, Veracruz.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A note on the spelling of the second surname. Under Hispanic cultural tradition, a person's second surname, when they use one, is that of their mother. Etymologically, the surname Saldívar is Zaldívar. In Hispanic America, it occasionally happens that the 'z' in the spelling of a surname is replaced with 's'.
  2. ^ Turismo Puebla Web site
  3. ^[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Garay 2006, p. 26.
  5. ^ González Marín 2006:127
  6. ^ Enciclopedia Política de México 9 Tomo V. (PDF). Senade de la República - Instituto Belisario Domínguez. 2010.
  7. ^ Grabman, Bosques War, pp. 15-19
  8. ^ "Gilberto Bosques Biography"
  9. ^ Grabman, Bosques' war, p. 36
  10. ^ "ADL Honors 'The Mexican Schindler' For Heroic Rescue Of Jews During The Holocaust". Anti-Defamation League. 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 27 November 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  11. ^ "Gilberto Bosques Saldívar, the 'Mexican Schindler,' is honored by the Anti-Defamation League". Los Angeles Times. 1 December 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  12. ^ "Boulevard dedicated to the Mexican savior is inaugurated in Vienna". International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. Retrieved 7 December 2008.
  13. ^ See external site under See also
  14. ^ Jiménez 2007
  15. ^ Diario de Xalapa, 21 August 2008


External links[edit]