In 2013, Yad Vashem recognized Mohamed Helmy as belonging to the Righteous among the Nations for hiding a Jewish family friend in his Berlin home for the duration of World War II. Helmy died in 1982 and had no children, but Yad Vashem managed to track down some of his relatives—who refused to accept a certificate and medal on his behalf, due to their hostility toward Israel. But now Helmy’s nephew has come forward to receive the honors due his uncle, the first Arab ever to be so recognized. Ofer Aderet writes:
Helmy was born in Khartoum in 1901, in what was then Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. He went to Germany to study medicine in 1922, settling in Berlin. After completing his studies, he was hired by the Robert Koch Institute in the city, where he eventually became head of urology. Helmy saw Jewish doctors fired from the hospital in 1933, after the Nazis came to power, and was himself fired in 1937 [on “racial” grounds]. A 2009 study by the institute showed that it was heavily involved in Nazi medical policy. . . .
When the Nazis began deporting Jews from Berlin, [Helmy] hid Anna Boros, twenty-one-years-old and a family friend, in his cabin in the city’s Buch neighborhood. She remained there for the duration of the war. Whenever Helmy was under police investigation, he would arrange for her to hide elsewhere. Anna lived as a Muslim under an assumed name, wore a hijab, and even married a Muslim in a fictitious marriage. . . .
Helmy also helped [Anna’s] mother Julie, stepfather Georg Wehr, and grandmother Cecilie Rudnik. Providing for them and attending to all their medical needs, he arranged for Rudnik to be hidden in the home of a German woman, Frieda Szturmann, who was herself later recognized as Righteous among the Nations. For over a year, Szturmann hid Rudnik, sharing her meager food rations.