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Spanish Righteous Among the Nations To be Honored at Yad Vashem Tomorrow

11 March 2008

Eduardo Propper de Callejon, Righteous Among the Nations from Spain, will be posthumously honored at Yad Vashem on Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at the Garden of the Righteous at 14:15, for rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony will take place in English, in the presence of Felipe Propper de Callejon, of the United States, and Elena Bonham Carter, of England, children of Righteous Among the Nations, and Spanish Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Eudaldo Mirapeix Martinez (Baron of Abella).

The events are open to the press in coordination with the Media Relations Department: 02 644 3410.

The Rescue Story

Eduardo Propper de Callejon began his service in the Spanish Foreign Ministry at the end of World War I. He served in Brussels and Vienna, where he met his future wife Helene Roberte Fould-Springer. As a loyal monarchist, he refused to declare his allegiance to the republic, and left the foreign service, returning at the end of the Spanish Civil War. In 1939, Propper de Callejon was appointed first secretary in the Spanish embassy in Paris.

Following the fall of France in 1940, countless refugees, both Jewish and non-Jewish, tried to escape the advancing German Army by crossing the Spanish border in the hope of reaching safe havens overseas. The French government too left Paris, and the diplomatic corps followed, including the Spanish embassy. Propper, his wife, and children, Felipe, then nine, and five-year-old Elena, arrived at the Spanish consulate in Bordeaux, where they discovered that the consul had abandoned his post and locked the offices. The Spanish diplomats were faced with thousands of refugees that had reached Bordeaux and were assembled in front of the consulate, hoping to obtain visas to escape the encroaching Nazis.

Faced with the plight of the refugees, Propper opened the consulate and began issuing transit visas to the refugees. For four days between 18-22 June 1940, he continuously stamped passports, defying official instructions not to issue visas without prior approval of the Spanish Foreign Ministry.

Propper continued to provide visas also after the embassy had moved to its new seat in Vichy. The number of visas Propper de Callejon issued is unknown as the consulates registry was never recovered.

In March 1941, Foreign Minister Ramon Serrano Suner informed the Spanish Ambassador to France, José Lucresia, that Propper was to be transferred to Spanish Morocco - a much less prestigious position. Though Propper de Callejon continued to serve in the Spanish Foreign Ministry, he was never given the official title of ambassador. Propper retired in 1965, and passed away in 1972.

Over 22,000 individuals have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations program: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/index.asp