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Turkish Passport

8 April 2016

The documentary “Turkish Passport” was screened at the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre on 6 April 2016 and attracted a crowd of more than 200 persons from the Jewish and Turkish communities in Cape Town.

Ambassador Kaan Esener of Turkey to South Africa (pictured 3rd from left) was present at the screening. The Embassy and the Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre were privileged to share this little known fact from the WWII where Turkish diplomats saved scores of Jews from the clutches of the Nazis.

It became an emotional evening where first-hand witnesses came forward with a Turkish passport issued to save their families. The most meaningful contribution came from an original survivor from the island of Rhodes saved by Consul General S. Ülkümen.

"Turkish Passport" tells the story of diplomats posted to Turkish embassies and consulates in several European countries, who saved numerous Jews during the Second World War.

Whether they pulled them out of Nazi concentration camps or took them off the trains that were taking them to the camps, the diplomats, in the end, ensured that the Jews who were Turkish citizens could return to Turkey and thus be saved. Based on the testimonies of witnesses who traveled to Istanbul to find safety, Turkish Passport also uses written historical documents and archive footage to tell this story of rescue and bring to light the events of the time. The diplomats saved not only the lives of Turkish Jews, but also rescued foreign Jews condemned to a certain death by giving them Turkish passports. In this dark period of history, their actions lit the candle of hope and allowed these people to travel to Turkey, where they found light. Through interviews conducted with surviving Jews who had boarded the trains traveling from France to Turkey, and talks with the diplomats and their families who saved their lives, the film demonstrates that "as long as good people are ready to act, evil cannot overcome".

   

Embassy of Turkey in Pretoria, South Africa

 

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