When Alfred Wetzler and Rudolf Vrba escaped Auschwitz in 1944, they didn’t just save themselves.
The two men, both Slovak Jews, used data secretly compiled during their time as sonderkommandos in Auschwitz to write the eponymous Wetzler-Vrba report, which provided one of the first eyewitness accounts of the death camp’s infamous gas chambers. Publicized by the BBC as Hungary was deporting its Jews en masse to Auschwitz, the report helped put an end to the country’s deportations. Decades later, historian Sir Martin Gilbert declared that Wetzler and Vrba set in motion “the largest single rescue of Jews” during WWII.
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