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Beyond Duty - Diplomats "Righteous Among the Nations"

On April 13, 2018, a solemn commemorative event titled "Beyond Duty" dedicated to diplomats awarded the "Right Among Nations" by Yad Vashem Memorial was held in Pristina. The main part of the event, prepared by the State Department of the State of Israel, is an exhibition of individual stories of courage by eight of 36 diplomats who received this award. The stories of Raoul Wallenberg (Sweden), Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz (Germany), Selahattina Ülkümena (Turkey), Francise Foley (Great Britain), Chii Sugihara (Japan), Aristida De Sousa Mendes (Portugal), Sebastián De Romeo Radigalese (Spain) and Vladimír Vochoč (Czechoslovakia) were presented in the event.

In the introductory speeches, Besar Pasom, co-founder and director of Bridging the Gap, which co-organized the event, said an exhibition dedicated to brave diplomats would be presented in other cities as well. The message of Israeli non-resident Ambassador Alonso Fischer-Kamm read Flori Dedoni from Bet Israel's Kosova. Rushdi Shkodra, chairman of Bet Israel of Kosovo, introduced the Czech Ambassador, Ivo Šilhavý, as a main guest and speaker. In his speech, he highlighted the activities of Czech diplomat Vladimír Vochoč, who saved many Jewish refugees in Marseille at the beginning of the 1940s. Ambassador Šilhavý recalled the words of Sir Nicholas Winton: "I do not think we have learned anything..., today the world is in a much more dangerous situation than it ever was." Ambassador Šilhavý called on diplomats, politicians and officials to make their utmost submissions to ethical principles.

Thanks to personal courage and knowledge of international law, Vladimir Vochoč managed to keep the Czechoslovak Consulate in Marseille in operation until March 1941 and helped thousands of refugees from Czechoslovakia, Germany, occupied France and other countries. Most of them, due to their pre-war work or ethnic origin, were threatened with imprisonment and death. After the communist coup in 1948, Communist security detained him for an alleged attempt to illegally cross the border, in April 1949 the indictment was released. The Communist Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, during detention made it a vacation with a waitable. In 1953, Communist Secret Police arrested him again and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and forfeiture of property. In 1960 he was released to amnesty.


Beyond Duty - Diplomats "Righteous Among the Nations"