El Salvadoran Citizenship Certificate

AUCTION 76 | Thursday, June 14th, 2018 at 3:00 PM
Fine Judaica: Printed Books, Manuscripts, Autograph Letters, Ceremonial & Graphic Art

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Lot 149

El Salvadoran Citizenship Certificate

(original photostat), issued to Iwan Berger of Budapest, by <<George Mandel-Mantello>>, First Secretary of the Salvadoran Consulate in Geneva, Switzerland. Text in French. With original notarization by the Swiss Consul, Budapest, Hungary. <<* Appended:>> Official, notarized translation into Hungarian of the above document. Geneva, Switzerland. Typed, with original signatures and stamps.

Budapest, 14 October, 1942: (i.e. Geneva, 12th October 1944)

Est: $6,000 - $9,000
<<Letter of Protection issued by the Consulate of El Salvador in Switzerland. Conferring (fake) Salvadoran citizenship on an Hungarian Jew.” >> George Mandel-Mantello (1903-92) served as First Secretary of the El Salvadoran Consulate in Geneva and used his position to issue thousands of Salvadoran citizenship papers to Jewish refugees in Nazi occupied Europe between 1942-44. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Romania, George Mandel moved to Budapest where he achieved business success. In the 1930’s he met the Salvadoran diplomat Col. Jose Arturo Castellanos who appointed Mandel honorary consul of the El Salvadoran Republic for Romania, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Years later, Castellanos, who had since moved to Switzerland to become the Salvadoran Consul there, created the post of First Secretary in the Geneva Consulate expressly for Mandel. In August, 1942, with the support and acquiescence of Castellanos, Mandel (who Latinized his name to “Mantello”) began issuing Salvadoran citizenship papers to Jewish refugees. Despite their questionable legality, the Nazis felt compelled to recognize these papers for fear of endangering German nationals living in Latin America. Mandel-Mantello received a deluge of requests from desperate Jews throughout Europe and worked with several Jewish organizations to provide photographs and personal information necessary for the newly created citizenship papers. Each certificate was copied and notarized, and these notarized photostats were then secreted into Nazi occupied countries via Swiss couriers and diplomats from neutral states. The original certificates remained with Mandel-Mantello in Switzerland. The efficacy of the certificates sent to Jews varied country by country. Some Dutch Jews were sent to a special section of Bergen-Belsen rather than to Auschwitz by virtue of their certificates. In other countries the certificates had little to no benefit, and frequently they arrived too late to be of use. The Salvadoran papers had their greatest impact in Hungary and to Budapest Jews threatened with deportation, these papers were among the most prized of the protective documents being distributed by the neutral legations. The present document would have been kept by its owner on his person at all times, especially in 1944, a time of the utmost personal danger, when Hungarian Jews were being deported to Auschwitz by the hundreds of thousands. See D. Kranzler, The Man Who Stopped the Trains to Auschwitz: George Mantello, El Salvador, and Switzerland’s Finest Hour (2000); and www.ushmm.org.