A Nazi-era German industrialist for the first time has spoken publicly about his World War II rescue of Jews.
Berthold Beitz, 94, the retired head of the Krupp Corp., told a German newspaper last week that he had not spoken before because he had no interest in being praised.
As the commercial director of the Carpathian Oil Co. between 1942 and 1944, Beitz managed to remove at least 1,500 Jews from deportation trains. He rescued 250 Jews from a train heading to the Belzec death camp in Poland by insisting they were indispensable laborers.
Neighbors informed on Beitz, saying he was helping Jews, and he was thrown into a Gestapo jail in Breslau, today Wroclaw, Poland. But the Gestapo interrogator was an old friend who asked to handle the case, and let him go.
“I didn’t do what I did so that I could some day make use of it,” Beitz told the paper, explaining why he had preferred not to discuss the past. He said the letters he received from survivors “tell the history much better than I can.”
Yad Vashem recognized Beitz in 1973 as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. His wife, Else, who reportedly hid Jewish children in their home, is due to receive the same honor this year, according to the newspaper.