We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?
Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

"Desperate Hours"
A documentary by Victoria BARRETT

"Desperate Hours" is based on authoritative scholarship by American, Israeli, Turkish, and Italian historians as well as interviews with survivors, former diplomats and clergy in Israel, Italy, Turkey and the United States. It is presented by Main Street Media in association with the Berenbaum Group and Shenandoah Films. The documentary directed and produced by Victoria Barrett. Ronald Goldfarb is the producer for MainStreet. Michael Berenbaum is the executive producer, writer and historian.

Photo of Michael Berenbaum>

On Monday 18 & also Tuesday 19 of February, a new documentary "Desperate Hours" was shown the Turkish community at the Turkish House in New York. The World Premiere was held on September 5th, 2001 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Florida. The documentary recounts the little known story of how Turkey rescued Jews from the Holocaust WWII.

Razzia of August 20, 1941: The Jews were arressted in the XI Quarter, surrounded
by French police and the Germans. Afterwards they will be transfered to Drancy.

(Photo Credit: Bibliotheque Historique de la Vile de Paris, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archieves.)

DESPERATE HOURS tells the story of:

- How Turkey recruited some of the intellectual elite being forced out of German life to revamp Turkish sciences, architecture, music, medicine, legal education, and art;
- How Turkish diplomats in France and Rhodes, acting on their own without instructions from Ankara, rescued Jews of Turkish origin and even when their citizenship was in doubt;
- How the Yishuv valiantly and daringly used Turkey as a base for illegal immigration to Palestine and the rescue of as many Jews as possible;
- How Monsignor Roncalli (who later became Pope John XXIII), then the Apostolic Delegate in Istanbul, worked with delegates of the Yishuv to get information of the fate of Jews and to rescue the few who could be rescued; and
- How the Brand Mission - the attempt in 1944 to trade one million Jews for 10,000 trucks, and evolved eventually collapsed.

Due to its neutrality until near the end of World War II and its unique geographical proximity to both Europe and Palestine, Turkey would come to play an important role to Jews in danger.  Through government policy and the actions of individuals, Turkey would be crucial to the Jews in many ways.

A Haven for a Discarded Elite

In the years preceding the Holocaust, Germany began dismissing and ultimately persecuting and killing its Jewish professors, architects, musicians, scientists, and physicians. Under the leadership of Turkey's president, Kemal Attaturk, Turkey actively recruited these men (and women) to serve as agents for modernizing the new Republic.  Three sons of the professors tell their stories of a life of tranquil and productive refuge as those they left behind fell victim to the Nazis.

Neutrality but not Indifference

In both occupied and Vichy France, Turkish officials vigorously defended the rights of its Jewish citizens abroad.  Diplomats followed up on individual cases of Turkish Jews being deported to transit camps, extended Turkish citizenship to many Jews who had lost it, and at times mounted daring and dangerous rescue missions on behalf of their beleaguered citizens. Vice Consul Necdet Kent who was assigned to Marseilles and Vice Consul Namik Yolga assigned to Paris, now men in their 80s and 90s, recount their stories, along with Turkish Jews they rescued. The story of the Turkish Consul in Rhodes Selahattin Ulkemen, the only Turk to be awarded the honor of Righteous Among the Nations by the State of Israel for his work is rescuing Jews of Turkish origin, is explored as well.

Rescue Efforts

As the closest neutral country to occupied Europe and a vital bridge between Europe and Palestine, Istanbul was the natural place for emissaries of the Jewish Agency to attempt rescue operations.  Teddy Kollek, who later achieved worldwide fame as the long-time mayor of Jerusalem, was one of the officials involved in these operations. DESPERATE HOURS tells the story of the attempts at rescue, those that succeeded and those that did not.

Jews for Sale

In Hungary during the last days of the war, Jews were being deported to death camps on a massive scale.  Amidst the deportations, Joel Brand, a Jewish emissary, was sent by Adolph Eichmann to Turkey to contact the Allies with a daring proposition - the exchange of Jews for money and supplies.  The strategic location of Turkey and its role as a bastion of all intelligence networks became vital in the intrigues behind Brand's mission, a mission  that has remained controversial to this day.

Monsignor Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) and the Jews of Hungary

Monsignor Roncalli (who in 1958 became Pope John XXIII) was the Apostolic Delegate in Turkey. He pleaded with the Vatican to become actively engaged in saving Jews, he met with Jewish Agency Representatives in Istanbul to offer assistance and to obtain desperately needed information, and undertook rescue efforts himself by helping to provide Jews with documents to help them escape the Nazi web.  Throughout his long life, he never forgot his experiences in Turkey nor the importance of the Holocaust - memories that that would later shape his actions as Pope when he would lead a dramatic revolution in the relationship between the Church and the Jews.

At a time when millions were murdered before the eyes of an indifferent world, there were some men, and at times, some governments, who chose to act - not for praise, not for glory, but in the name of simple human decency.  And in doing so they dispel the myths that people were powerless to resist the Nazis.  DESPERATE HOURS tells the stories of those precious few who, in the face of utter darkness, never lost their sight.

This is a unique chapter of the Holocaust that is little-known, and we think you will find it both engaging and informative.

_ _ _ _ _

About the Producer & Director:

Victoria BARRETT has been in the entertainment industry for the past 20 years as a producer, director, writer and actor. Her most recent production is Desperate Hours, a
little known story of World War II - Turkey and the Holocaust. She is director, producer and co-executive producer. "Desperate Hours" was shot in Super 16mm in five countries: Israel, Turkey, Italy, Austria and the United States.

Previously living in Turkey for several years, her experiences inspired her to produce, co-write and host the film The Forgotten Holy Land, the history of Christianity in Turkey. She was Executive producer, Producer, Co-writer and Host. This film was shot in Super 16mm in 15 locations through out Turkey in a challenging schedule of five weeks. Locales included remote areas in the east such as Mt. Ararat, the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, Ephesus and Istanbul.

As an actor, her films include starring roles in "Russian Roulette", "Three Kinds of Heat", " America 2000 and Over the Brooklyn Bridge. She was a guest star on the hit television program Cheers.

Ms. Barrett has written numerous travel and news articles that include a piece on Istanbul for the New York Times. She has also written various articles on Russia, beginning with her eyewitness account of the coup in 1991 in the then Soviet Union, and the many social and economic reforms that followed.

Now living in Vienna, Austria, Ms. Barrett may be contacted at: shenandoah@attglobal.net

For Further Information Contact:


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