Righteous moslems

The Turkish Consul

Selahattin Ulkumen

at Rhodes

Selahattin Ulkumen was born in 1914, into a Muslim family, in Antakya, on the Mediterranean coast. After attending the university, he entered the Ministry of Affairs and was appointed Consul General of Rhodes in 1943.

The then 30-year-old Selahattin Ulkumen arrived in Rhodes in 1944 with his pregnant wife, Mihrinissa, just as the Nazis assumed control of Rhodes, and as the Germans began the deportation of the island’s 1,700 Jews. When the Gestapo ordered all of the island’s Jews to report for “temporary transportation to a nearby island”, it meant in fact taking them to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Ulkumen realized the gravity of the situation, and he and his wife discussed ways of protecting the Jews of Rhodes.

Selahattin Ulkumen, a Muslim, insisted that due to the treaty between Germany and Turkey, Turkish citizens, including Jews, could not be deported. Selahattin Ulkumen argued that under Turkish law, there was no difference between a Jewish, Christian or Muslim citizen. He negociated with the nazi occupation officers in order to save the life of as many Jews as possible. He did not only try to rescue the Jewish Turks but any other Jew if possible. For instance where a Turk was married to an Italian, he argued, that the family was Turkish. He devised a number of ways to rescue the Jews of Rhodes. Among them he personally paid fishermen to smuggle them to Turkey and then built diplomatic connections with Turkey to grant them protection.

During the war, Selahattin Ulkumen´s house was shelled. His wife Mihrinissa Ulkumenwas mortally wounded, living long enough to give birth to their son Mehmet Ulkumen. A few days after the birth of their son Mehmed Ulkumen, Mihrinissa Ulkumen died.  Selahattin Ulkumen was deported to Piraeus, where he spent the remainder of the war in jail. His deeds today serves as a source of pride for all  people around the world.

In 1990 he was awarded Israel’s “Righteous Gentile” medal from Yad Vashem. He is the only Turk to receive this honorable award.

A Muslim Hero who Saved Jews in Holocaust

“My father, Selahattin Ulkumen,

told me an old Turkish saying.

Do a good deed and throw it into the sea.

If the fish do not recognize it, God will.”

Mehmet Ulkumen.

Testimony by Mehmet Ulkumen,

Part I

Testimony by Mehmet Ulkumen, Chief of Protocol, UN Office at Geneva, during the Geneva Non-Governmental Gathering on the First Annual UN International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, January 27, 2006, Palais des Nations, UN European Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, arranged by UN Watch.


Testimony by Mehmet Ulkumen,

Part II

Testimony by Mehmet Ulkumen, Chief of Protocol, UN Office at Geneva, during the Geneva Non-Governmental Gathering on the First Annual UN International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, January 27, 2006, Palais des Nations, UN European Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, arranged by UN Watch.




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