Egyptian to receive Righteous among the Nations award from Yad Vashem

Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre will for the first time recognise as “Righteous among the Nations” an Arab who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust. The family of Dr. Mohamed Helmy will accept the award from Israel’s Holocaust memorial and museum in a ceremony in Berlin on Thursday.

Helmy, an Egyptian-born doctor living in Berlin, risked his life when he sheltered four Jews throughout the period of the Second World War.

Yad Vashem recognised Helmy, who died in 1982, as Righteous Among the Nations in 2013, but his family initially refused the honour because the institution is Israeli.

“If any other country offered to honour Helmy, we would have been happy with it,” said Mervat Hassan, the wife of Helmy’s grandnephew, told The Associated Press during an interview at her home in Cairo in October 2013. Now, after a four-year search, a relative was found who agreed to accept the award.

Nasser Kutbi, an 81-year-old professor of medicine from Cairo whose father was Helmy’s nephew and who knew him personally, will travel to Berlin to accept the award.

Israel’s Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff will present the certificate and medal to Kutbi. The ceremony will be held at the German Foreign Ministry rather than at the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, in part because Helmy’s family still has reservations about accepting the award directly from an Israeli institution.

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