BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Gilberto Bosques Saldivar has never been the subject of a major motion picture by Steven Spielberg. American history books seldom, if ever, mention his name.
But the former Mexican diplomat, stationed in France during World War II, helped save as many as 40,000 Jews and other refugees from Nazi persecution.
"It is still a chapter of the Holocaust that has not been written," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
At a November reception held in Bosques' honor in Beverly Hills, the ADL presented his daughter with a posthumous Courage to Care Award. The awards were created in 1987 to recognize non-Jews who helped rescue and hide refugees during the Holocaust.
Foxman noted that, other than industrialist Oskar Schindler and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, most non-Jews who defied the Nazis and helped Jews during the Holocaust are not well-known. Calling Saldivar the "Mexican Schindler," Foxman said, "Bosques' life is a shining example of human decency, moral courage and conviction."
Foxman described Bosques' efforts when he served as Mexican consul general in Marseilles, France, in 1939: He rented two chateaux to house European Jews and other refugees.
In two years he issued about 40,000 visas and chartered ships to take Jews and other refugees to various African nations, where they then went on to Argentina, Mexico and Brazil.
Bosques was arrested, along with his family and about 40 consular staff members, by the Germans in 1943 and was held for about a year near Bonn, Germany, until Mexico reached a deal with the Nazis for his release.
He died in 1995 at age 103.