The people that we forget.
You probably don’t know who Abdol-Hossein Sardari is. I didn’t until I happened upon a BBC news story about him. You should know about him, because he’s the Iranian who saved several thousand Jews from the Holocaust.
Yeah, you read that right. So pay attention, because you’re going to learn something.
Abdol-Hossein Sardari was an Iranian diplomat in charge of the consulate in Paris in the early forties. Techincally, Iran was neutral, but Iranian Jews were considered more “Jewish” than “Iranian” by the Germans, and so were subject to persecution and deportation. Now, deportation back to Iran would have been fine, but sadly, that’s not where they would have headed. Sardari used his influence and position to help more than 2000 Iranian Jews, securing paperwork and passports.
Then things got a little more difficult. In 1941 Russia and Britain invade Iran, forcing Iran to sign a treaty with the Allies. Officially, Sardari is out of job when he’s told to return home to Tehran immediately.
He doesn’t. With no diplomatic immunity he stays and continues to help Iranian Jews leave France.
In 1978 he loses his property and his pension in the Iranian revolution. He dies alone and poor in England in 1981. He’s forgotten by the world at large, not that it was likely that the world at large was ever aware of his existence in the first place. But several thousand Iranian Jews and their children and grandchildren remember him as the man who saved them.
Oh, and did I mention that he was Muslim?