Chilean diplomat who saved over 1,200 Jews honored as Righteous Gentile


RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Chilean diplomat who saved over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust was honored as a Righteous Gentile.

Samuel del Campo, who served as chargé d’affaires at the Chilean embassy in Bucharest, assisted Jews by issuing them Chilean passports – mainly to Polish Jews in Czernowitz – between 1941 and 1943.

A relative of Del Campo received a medal and certificate of honor from Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial officials during a ceremony held on Sunday in Jerusalem. Milenko Skoknic, director general of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also attended.

The diplomat began to issue Chilean passports for Jews of Polish nationality in October 1941, when a ghetto was established in the city of Czernowitz, and deportations to ghettos and camps in Transnistria began. In the absence of an official Polish representation in the country, the representation of the interests of Polish citizens in Romania was transferred to Chile. Members of the Kiesler family of Czernowitz and the Rosenthal family from Bucharest were saved by Del Campo.

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After the deportations from Czernowitz to Transnistria resumed in June 1942, Del Campo continued to intervene with the Romanian authorities in favor of “the Jews under the protection of Chile.”

Based on recorded minutes from discussions in the Council of Ministers of Romania, Yad Vashem was able to estimate that approximately 1,200 Jews received Chilean passports providing them with protection against the deportations.

In the spring of 1943, diplomatic relations between Chile and Romania were severed, and Switzerland began to represent the interests of Chile in the country. The documents that Del Campo issued were clearly not in line with the Chilean government’s policy; when Swiss envoys asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile to clarify the policy of the ministry regarding the granting of Chilean passports, they were told that “they would prefer not to grant new passports without the approval of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile.”

Del Campo was appointed consul-general in Zurich, but the appointment never came into effect, and he never returned to serve in Chile’s Foreign Ministry. He died in Paris in the 1960s.

Samuel del Campo and Maria Edwards de Errazuriz are the only Chilean Righteous Gentile recognized by Yad Vashem.

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