Even after the Gestapo commander at the track demanded Kent leave the area, he refused, insisting the Jews in those cattle cars were Turkish citizens, and therefore protected. When the Gestapo commander defiantly refused to exempt the Jews, Kent and his assistant astonished the Germans by jumping aboard the boxcars. Now there were two Turkish diplomats on a train destined for a death camp.
The Gestapo officer pleaded with Kent to jump off. He would not, even as the locomotive began chugging out of the station. As the death train rumbled down the track, Kent had no idea what his fate would be. When the train stopped at the next station, a group of German officers stepped aboard, approached and apologized. Kent was directed to a Mercedes parked near the track, ready to escort him back to Marseilles. Kent still refused: “I explained [to the German], that more than 80 Turkish citizens had been loaded on to these animal wagons because they were Jews and that I was a representative of a government that rejected such treatment.”
Finally, the flustered Germans unloaded the Jews, thus ending the standoff. The saved Jews wept uncontrollably and lavished Kent with hugs. Kent remembered “Those embraces around our necks and hands…the expressions of gratitude in the eyes of the people we rescued … the inner peace I felt when I reached my bed towards morning.”
After Necdet Kent retired from a career of valiant diplomatic service, he received Turkey’s Supreme Service Medal. Israel also bestowed a special medal on Kent, with the inscription: “Saving one life is like saving all the world.”
* * * * *
When the Third Reich collapsed in May 1945, Hitler’s war against the Jews ended in Europe but continued in the Middle East. Many Nazis melted away from the Reich, smuggled out by such organizations as the infamous Odessa group and the lesser-known Catholic lay network Intermarium, as well as the CIA and KGB. They ensured the continuation of the Nazi campaign in the post-war Arab world. Egypt was a prime destination for German-Nazi relocation in the Arab world.
Dr. Aribert Heim was known as “Dr. Death” for his grotesque pseudo-medical experiments on Jewish prisoners in the Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, and Mauthausen concentration camps. He was fond of surgical procedures, including organ removals without anesthesia, injecting gasoline into prisoners to observe the manner of death, and decapitating Jews with healthy teeth so he could cook the skulls clean to make desk decorations. Dr. Heim converted to Islam and became “Uncle Tarek” Hussein Farid in Cairo, Egypt, where he lived a happy life as a medical doctor for the Egyptian police.
Two of Goebbels’s Nazi propagandists, Alfred Zingler and Dr. Johann von Leers, became Mahmoud Saleh and Omar Amin respectively, working in the Egyptian Information Department. In 1955, Zingler and von Leers helped establish the virulently anti-Semitic Institute for the Study of Zionism in Cairo.
Hans Appler, another Goebbels propagandist, became Saleh Shafar who, in 1955, became an expert for an Egyptian unit specializing in anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist hate propaganda. Erich Altern, a Gestapo agent, Himmler coordinator in Poland, and expert in Jewish affairs, became Ali Bella, working as a military instructor in training camps for Palestinian terrorists.
Franz Bartel, an assistant Gestapo chief in Katowice, Poland, became El Hussein and a member of Egypt’s Ministry of Information. Hans Becher, a Gestapo agent in Vienna, became a police instructor in Cairo. Wilhelm Boerner, a brutal Mauthausen guard, became Ali Ben Keshir, working in the Egyptian Interior Ministry and as an instructor for a Palestinian terrorist group.
A German newspaper estimated there were fully 2,000 Nazis working openly and under state protection in Egypt.
The name “Hitler” was among the most popular post-war names for newborn babies, rivaling the name Muhammad. Indeed, the current commander of the Egyptian military, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, is related to two other Tantawis – one named “Mussolini” and the other named “Hitler.”
General Hitler Tantawi became a top administrative military official and his name can be searched on the Internet. Some Egyptians actually re-invented Hitler’s history, claiming that Der Führer was not German; rather he began as an Egyptian village boy named Muhammad Hadair who wandered from village to village praying at all the mosques.
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