Daily Israel Report

Chabad Renews Effort to Make Senior Nazi a Righteous Gentile

New book shows that German intelligence commander saved hundreds of Jews in addition to Chabad Rebbe.
By Ernie Singer
First Publish: 8/4/2009, 11:03 AM

The Chabad Lubavitch Hassidic movement renewed its efforts on Monday to obtain "righteous gentile" status from the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial institute for a senior Nazi who saved Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef Schneerson, the movement's leader during World War II.

The effort was based on new information revealed by historian Danny Orbach that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the commander of German intelligence, smuggled the rabbi and hundreds of other Jews out of the Third Reich without monetary or other benefit and at risk to his own life and the lives of family members.

Canaris aide Hans von Dohnanyi, who acted on Canaris's behalf, was named a righteous gentile in 2003. However, Yad Vashem has rejected Chabad's efforts on behalf of Canaris, claiming he was indirectly responsible for Jewish deaths in his high-ranking capacity.

Orbach's new book "Valkyrie -German Resistance to Hitler" states that not only did Canaris work to save Jews, he also worked against the Nazi war effort. Based on this, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kaminitsky of Kfar Chabad's advisory board says it is inconsistent for someone who saved so many Jews to work for their liquidation.

According to Orbach's book, Canaris was part of an underground that worked against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and was arrested after the failed bombing attempt on Hitler's life. He was taken to a concentration camp and, like von Dohnanyi before him, was executed, as was another assistant, General Hans Oster. Canaris's efforts on behalf of the Jews were documented by the people he saved and by American intelligence, as well as in a letter by Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann.