Count Joachim von Zedtwitz, Germany

Joachim von Zedtwitz was born on June 11, 1910 in Vienna. In 1939 he was a German medical student in Prague. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, Zedtwitz was instrumental in helping politically active anti-Nazis – for the most part, Jews – escape abroad. The rescue activity was organized from the house of Milena Jesenská. Zedtwitz would arrive at Jesenska’s home in Prague and drive the escapees to the area of Moravska-Ostrava. This was in the vicinity of the border, and from there, they could cross over to Poland with the help of local guides. However, with the occupation of Poland this option was no longer feasible. In March 1940, Zedtwitz was arrested and questioned by the Gestapo concerning his relations with Jesenská. His interrogators knew nothing about his rescue activity, and 15 months later he was released after simulating insanity. After spending some time as a patient in psychiatric clinics he was released, and worked until the end of the war as an internist in clinics in various towns. When he was in Berlin, he cooperated with a resistance group. Zedtwitz had given up his German citizenship in the wake of the German invasion of Czechoslovakia and never reclaimed it out of shame at the crimes the Nazis had committed. In the 1980s, he became a Swiss citizen.

On December 14, 1994, Yad Vashem recognized Joachim von Zedtwitz as Righteous Among the Nations.