Open Door Documentary Film: Philippines Saved 1,200 Jews During the Holocaust (Video)

Philippines Saved 1200 Jews Holocaust

Jewish refugees gathering in in the Philippines (1940)

A feature-length documentary film titled “An Open Door: Jewish Rescue in the Philippines” features an uplifting story on how a third-world country such as the Philippines has saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. The event took place from 1937 to 1941, when the Jews escaped from the cruel hands of the Nazi Germany.

“That was like a rebirth. They (Jews refugees) went from certain death to this life.” Noel Izon, the filmmaker of the documentary, said. This is third film from his World War II trilogy “Forgotten Stories.” Open Door shows Izon’s interview with several Holocaust survivors including Lotte Hershfield.

“When President (Manuel) Quezon initially heard of the Jewish plight in Europe, he had said he was willing to actually reserve visas for up to a million or more and that whatever land was needed he would make sure that the leases were turned over to the Jewish settlers.” Izon added.

“It was sort of an adventure and I felt somewhat secure. I had my brother there and I had my parents there. I knew I was going to to a new country, it was somewhat exciting,” Hershfield, 84, said on the Open Door documentary film, adding that at the age of five, she couldn’t attend public schools.

An Open Door: Jewish Rescue in the Philippines Extende Trailer
Credit: Noel Izon YouTube

That time, there were thousands of Jews from Austria and Germany who tried to flee from Germany. However, some countries like the United Kingdom and the United States did not welcome them. They were forced to go to Sousa in the Dominican Republic, Shanghai in China, and in Manila, Philippines.

But unfortunately, the Philippines that time is under Japanese occupation. The so-called Battle of Manila is considered as one of the bloodiest battles during World War II. But despite the fact that life was very hard that time, the Jews refugees said that Filipinos have welcomed them with open arms.

According to the documentary, President Manuel L. Quezon then had a great concern with the increasing number of Jews escaping from Germany. He became the first president of the Philippine Commonwealth in November 1935, two months after the passage of the Nuremberg Laws.

These laws deprived the German Jews of their citizenship, and prohibited them from marrying “Germans or related blood” and their homes and businesses were confiscated. Other Nazi laws eventually followed which made totally deprived all their rights treated them as stateless citizens.

This Open Door documentary film has already been screened in the Philippines last year, with no less than President Noynoy Aquino himself watching it. Co-produced by author Sharon Delmendo, Izon continues to ask support on this unique film not only from Filipinos but also to people who hates war.



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