THOUSAND OSI Translation. Region: Spanish/Latin America/UN –
Source: United Nations – in English 4
Headline: Collaboration can make something great, says one of the creators of The Rescue
In 1891, in the bosom of a prominent military family in El Salvador, José Arturo Castellanos was born, who followed in his father’s footsteps, received the best military education and quickly rose through the ranks to colonel.
In 1938, while serving as Consul in Hamburg, Germany, Castellanos witnessed the desperate situation of the Jewish people. In 1941, he became Consul of El Salvador in Geneva. Together with his “First Secretary” George Mandel-Mantello, a Hungarian Jewish businessman with whom he befriended in the years leading up to World War II, Castellanos initiated one of the largest rescue missions.
The issuance of a single document could save an entire family, since El Salvador was considered a neutral country during World War II. The operation known as “Acción Salvadoreña” consisted of the distribution through a network of diplomatic couriers of more than 13,000 documents certifying the Salvadoran nationality of Jewish people residing in Hungary, Romania, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The colonel retired in 1972 and returned to El Salvador, where he led a quiet life until his death in 1977. During his lifetime, he was never recognized for his altruistic spirit and justice, which were the basis for his rescue work.
It was not until 2005 that Castellanos’ exploits came to light, when a suitcase containing thousands of original Salvadoran certificates was unearthed from a basement in Geneva and sent to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in the United States, where researchers studied the documents and the rescue operation in detail.
On May 3, 2010, Yad Vashem, the official Israeli institution established in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, recognized José Arturo Castellanos as Righteous Among the Nations. This honor has been given to rescuers such as Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and renowned German businessman Oskar Schindler.
UNIC Mexico/Luis Arroyo
The Castellanos brothers.
Keeping the legacy alive: a mission of their grandchildren
In 2013, Álvaro and Boris, grandsons of Colonel Castellanos, were driven by the desire to make the story of their “grandfather” known to the world and began to develop a documentary: The Rescue, in which they researched the life and heroic deeds of Colonel Castellanos until he became Just of the Nations.
The making of the documentary took them to different countries where Castellanos had studied and worked. They also tracked down and interviewed Jewish people who had survived the Holocaust thanks to certificates issued by his grandfather.
“It is a very special and unique story. I think the most beautiful thing about the story is that my grandfather and his friend, these two people who were not of the same religion, collaborated and were able to do something much bigger than they could have done alone. When we show the film we like to make that point, because by collaborating you can do something much bigger,” said Boris Castellanos.
Passionate not only about cinematography but also about music, Álvaro and Boris decided to complement the documentary with musical pieces of the time and thus bring the images to life. In doing so, they also honored their grandmother, who was a music enthusiast.
“It gives us a lot of pride and we as artists also have the responsibility to do something, to tell about it. There are many people who helped and I think what impacts us the most is that their answers were: ‘I did it because it was the natural thing to do, to help, I could do it, why wouldn’t I do it’. And also the music describes grandfather and grandmother very much; it is like the artistic environment in which they lived, it is something that comes from the Hispanic culture”, expressed Álvaro Castellanos.
The film “The Rescue” and the live concert have been presented in different countries. In Mexico it was screened on Friday, January 26 at the Museo Memoria y Tolerancia in Mexico City, as part of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
Honoring victims through music and remembrance
During the presentation of “The Rescue” in Mexico, the Castellanos brothers and a group of musicians performed the songs from the documentary using instruments belonging to people who lived during the Holocaust.
The Instruments of Hope Foundation, dedicated to the search for and care of musical instruments related to the Holocaust, lent some pieces from this collection for the special presentation.
“The commemoration is part of this mission of the Museum, to bring to the present, to raise awareness and to commemorate those victims of the Holocaust. There are some things that remind us of the Holocaust and remind us of the population that was violated. During the Holocaust one of the forms of spiritual resistance was music. The Instruments of Hope Association has entrusted the Museum to be part of its mission,” said Adán García Fajardo, academic director of the Museum of Memory and Tolerance.
The Museum of Memory and Tolerance signed a collaboration agreement with the Instruments of Hope Foundation, which consists of safeguarding the musical instruments and keeping them alive to continue educating about the Holocaust.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and/or sentence structure not be perfect.