web analytics
November 1, 2014 / 8 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Fascinating Tale of Princess El Nassari


Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

The high-ranking Nazi officers and their wives were flattered to have Alizia El Nassari, the beautiful, poised Arab aristocrat as a guest at their parties. One German general was so enchanted with the patrician brunette that he insisted she was of royal blood, and began addressing her as “Princess El Nassari.”

The title and the name were a spectacular camouflage for Rachel Schwartz, a young Jewish widow in Poland under Nazi occupation. The guise of the beautiful Arab princess was a fortunate ploy which saved not only her life and the life of her little daughter, but a great many other Jewish lives as well.

How did a Jewish woman in Poland become an Arab princess and an honored guest in Nazi social circles? And how did she use her fictitious identity to save Jewish lives?

Rachel’s fascinating history begins in Zichron Yaakov, one of the first pioneering settlements in Eretz Yisrael. Her parents, a young idealistic couple, and members of BILU, went to build Eretz Yisrael in the 1880’s. During the course of her own pioneering activities, Rachel met Dov Matpes, one of the founders of Kibbut Bet Alpha, who was from Lvov, Poland. Shortly before their marriage, Dov was injured in a work accident. Unable to provide medical treatment for its young member, the kibbutz leadership suggested that Dov return to his affluent family in Poland until he recovers.

However, Polish Jewry under impending German occupation was impoverished by business boycotts, and by the time Dov recovered he needed to help support his parents and pushed off his return to Eretz Yisrael.

 Soon German troops marched into Warsaw and carried out random massacres of Jews; Dov become one of their first victims. After Dov’s murder Rachel assumed the responsibilities of provider for the family and her infant daughter.

 As a qualified dietician and nurse, she managed to obtain a position at a local maternity hospital. One day Rachel overheard her fellow nurses refer to her as a “stuck up Jew girl” – an extremely hazardous remark in Nazi occupied Poland. Rachel knew she had to act instantly to save her life. A friend skilled in forgery invented an alias that would fit Rachel’s appearance, and so the myth of the Arab aristocrat Alizia El Nassari was born. The forger altered Rachel Schwartz Matpes’ passport, and had it translated into German.

The notary authorizing the German copy was the first in a long line of officials to be positively disposed towards the charming “Arab” woman, and issued her a German identity card. With this card Alizia El-Nasari applied for a position at a military convalescent home. The German officer in charge, Captain Peter Bentschen, was captivated by Alizia, and took the young “Arab aristocrat” under his protection. He provided a home in the restricted Aryan section of the city for Rachel, her little girl and a Ukrainian nanny, together with generous food supplies delivered by Jews assigned to his work detail. Soon Alizia asked for other Jewish “help,” moving a great number of Jewish men and women into the exclusive “Aryan” apartment. It took constant vigilance and diplomacy to keep Captain Bentschen unaware that he was sheltering and feeding a great number of Jews.

After the war, Rachel joined Dr. Leon Kupfelberg’s rescue committee in Cracow, which helped redeem Jewish children from Christian families and convents. The two eventually married and reached Israel where Dr. Kupfelberg changed his name to Arye Arad, and assumed a diplomatic post in the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

A final note of irony to Princess El-Nassari’s tale: as she had no proof of her Jewish identity Rachel was barred from entering Israel! She was finally admitted to her beloved homeland on the testimony of her parents in Zichron Yaakov.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “The Fascinating Tale of Princess El Nassari”

  1. David Bishop says:

    Thinking strategically is ones best defense in times of national turbulence.

  2. David Bishop says:

    Thinking strategically is ones best defense in times of national turbulence.

  3. A wonderful story. What happened to her and her family in the years afterward?

  4. A wonderful story. What happened to her and her family in the years afterward?

  5. Meira Yolanda Lettieri says:

    Lvov, Ukraine, at the time was Austria-Hungary, It became Poland briefly after the First World War. How do I know this? My first Father in Law was a commercial attache from Poland but from Lvov. After WWII it was reincorporated into Ukraine and became part of that SSR.
    Reporters need to get basic facts correct or how can they be believed on their more speculative statements? I guess it matters because it's part of my Grandchildren's history.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Yehudah Glick on the Temple Mount.
Yehuda Glick’s Condition Stabilizing, “He Was Very Lucky” (1:00 PM)
Latest Sections Stories
Collecting-History-logo

Undoubtedly the greatest manifestation of his antipathy was his infamous declaration: “[Expletive] the Jews. They don’t vote for us anyway.”

West-Coast-logo

Chaplain Winkler along with the other OJCB chaplains work tirelessly on a daily basis to ensure that all of the Jewish prisoners religious needs are met.

Eller-103114-Busy-In-Brooklyn

“I work around the Jewish calendar, always trying to think of creative spins,” noted Chani.

“Without a high school diploma, you couldn’t work as a garbage collector in New York City; you couldn’t join the Air Force. Yet a quarter of our kids still walked out of high school and never came back.”
– Amanda Ridley

My mother-in-law is totally devoted to her daughters and their children. Her sons’ children on the other hand are treated like second-class citizens.

The Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews is designed to tell the whole thousand-year story of the Jews in Poland.

This past summer was a powerful one for the Jewish people. I will always remember where I was on June 12th when I found out that Gilad, Eyal and Naftali were kidnapped. I will always remember the look on my sister’s face on June 30th when she told me that they were found. I will […]

Avromi often put other people’s interests before his own: he would not defend people whom he believed were guilty (even if they were willing to pay him a lot of money).

The Presbyterian Church USA voted to divest from three companies that do business with Israel.

How can I help my wife learn to say “no,” and understand that her first priority must be her husband and family?

My eyes skimmed an article on page 1A. I was flabbergasted. I read the title again. Could it be? It had good news for the Miami Jewish community.

Students in early childhood, elementary, and middle school were treated to an array of hands-on projects to create sukkah decorations such as wind chimes, velvet posters, sand art, paper chains, and more.

More Articles from Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson
LBJ-101014-Michal-Fried

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Over the years there has been no shortage of reporting about Devorah Halberstam, Ari’s mother. Even in Israel, thousands of miles from the Halberstam home, there have been frequent references in the media to Ari’s mother. Do you know why?

When Hitler entered Prague in March 1939, many Czech Jews managed to escape to Palestine, including Alice’s twin Mariane and her families.

Hannah believed that one must learn about the evils of the past so that they aren’t repeated.

Who is Rachel Azaria? Would you have guessed that this dynamo is a religious, 35-year-old woman, mother of four children, ranging in ages from ten years to eight months?

The relatively young Eitam battalion has become instrumental in IDF Southern Command’s Division 80’s efforts to keep up with the ever-changing security situation in Sinai after the fall of the Mubarak regime – and the entry of terrorist elements to the region.

Eishet Chayil is a hymn customarily recited on Friday evenings before sitting down to the Shabbat evening meal. It is a twenty-two verse poem at the conclusion of the book of Mishlei, describing the woman of valor as the ideal wife and mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/the-fascinating-tale-of-princess-el-nassari/2013/12/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: