Thursday, December 14, 2006

Other Iranians

In the light of events in Tehran this week, an escape into the past and to another Iran.

Abdol Hossein Sardari didn't look like a hero. But when Paris fell to Hitler in June 1940, the 30-year-old Muslim-a dapper man with a receding hairline-took it upon himself to save Jews trapped inside Nazi-occupied France. Sardari, a junior official at the Iranian Embassy, had been left behind to look after the building when the Iranian ambassador and his staff abandoned Paris to establish residence in Vichy, the new home of France's pro-Nazi government. Once the Nazis began rounding up Jews, Sardari, without authorization from his government, made liberal use of the embassy's supply of blank Iranian passports to assign new, non-Jewish identities to those in need, creating his own version of Schindler's list.

Ibrahim Morady, who died this past June in Los Angeles at the age of 95, was one of the hundreds of Jews Sardari helped spare from deportation. "My father moved to Paris from Persia when he was six," recounts his son Fred. Once Morady, a well-to-do rug merchant, had his new identity, he and two colleagues arranged to purchase false papers for about 100 other Jews of Iranian descent. Sardari served as their go-between, passing a bribe to a German official. In return, these Jews were given documents asserting that they were members of "some strange tribe in Iran-Djouguti, or something like that," Fred Morady explains. "I asked my father: 'What does this name mean?' And he said: 'They just made it up.'"
They just made it up. That's what Ahmedinejad organised his conference to say, though his field of reference is a little difference, even if related.

In "How my grandad invented the Holocaust", Eugene peers back at a generation of his family that all but disappeared, pace Ahmadinejad and his "scholars".

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