Mohamed Helmy


Mohamed Helmy – was born in Khartoum in 1901, when Sudan was under Egyptian and British administration. In 1922, Helmy moved to Germany to study medicine and settled in Berlin. After completing his studies, he went to work at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin but was dismissed in 1937. A 2009 study by the institute showed that it was heavily involved in Nazi medical policy. Under Nazi racial theory, Helmy was a Hamit or Hamitic (the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah) – a term adopted in the 19th century and used to define the natives of North Africa including ancient Egyptians and people from the Horn of Africa and southern Arabia. Not being a so-called Aryan, Helmy was forbidden to work in the public health system and was not allowed to marry his German fiancée. In 1939 he was arrested with other Egyptians but released a year later due to health problems. When the deportations of the Jews from Berlin began, a family friend, 21-year-old Anna Boros (Gutman after the war), needed a hiding place. Helmy brought her to a cabin he owned in the Berlin neighborhood of Buch – it became her safe haven until the end of the war.  Whenever he was under police investigation, Helmy would arrange for her to hide elsewhere. Helmy also helped Gutman’s mother Julie, stepfather Georg Wehr and grandmother Cecilie Rudnik. Providing for them and attending to their medical needs, he arranged for Rudnik to be hidden in Szturmann’s home. For over a year, Szturmann hid the elderly lady and shared her food rations with her. But the family was caught in 1944; during their brutal interrogation they revealed that Helmy was helping both them and Gutman. Helmy immediately brought Gutman to Szturmann’s home; only his keen resourcefulness kept him out of trouble.  After the war, the four family members emigrated to the United States but did not forget their rescuers; in the 1950s and early ‘60s they wrote letters to the Berlin Senate lauding them. These letters were uncovered in the Berlin archives and were recently submitted to Yad Vashem. Helmy remained in Berlin and was finally able to marry his fiancée. He died in 1982; Szturmann died in 1962. The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has named an Egyptian doctor to its list of Righteous  Among the Nations – the first Arab to be so honored for rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. ]