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Thu, 07.25.1901

Mohammad Helmy, Physician, and Activist born

Mohammad Helmy

*Mohammed Helmy was born on this date in 1901. He was a North African Egyptian doctor and WW II, activist.

Helmy was born to an Egyptian army major and a Sudanese mother in Khartoum, Sudan. He went to Berlin in 1922 to study medicine. He would work as head of the urology department at the Robert Koch Hospital after graduating and having been apprenticed by Prof. Georg Klemperer, a Jewish professor of medicine. Extensively involved in Nazi policies, the hospital issued a wave of dismissals three months after the Nazis came to power in 1933 and would lose almost all its mid-level scientists. Helmy was relieved of his duties in 1938 because he was a non-Aryan Hamite, according to Nazi racial theory.

He was banned from working in hospitals and marrying his German fiancée, Annie Ernst. In September 1939, a law requiring citizens of "enemy states" to register with authorities was implemented. Shortly after, Africans in Germany and territories annexed or occupied by the Nazis were arrested, jailed, and deported to the Wülzburg internment camp near Nuremberg. Egyptian detainees in the camp were exchanged for Germans detained in Egypt. On October 3, 1939, Helmy was arrested and imprisoned for a month before being sent to Wülzburg, where he fell seriously ill and was released in December.

In January 1940, Heinrich Himmler ordered the internment of all adult male Egyptian nationals, which led to his arrest. The Egyptian Embassy secured Helmy's early release in 1940 due to his deteriorating condition. For over a year, Helmy was obliged to report to the police twice daily and provide proof every month that he was too ill to be resent to the internment camp. Conscripted to the practice of Dr. Johannes Wedekind in Charlottenburg, Helmy fabricated sick notes for foreign workers to help them return to their countries and for German citizens to help them avoid labor, civil conscription, and obligatory conscription military service. In 1943, Helmy went to the Prinz Albrecht Hotel, the Berlin headquarters of the S.S. He provided medical care to Muslim guests, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Amin al-Husseini.

When the Nazis began deporting Jews from Berlin, Helmy hid a friend, Anna Boros-Gutman, in a cabin he owned for the war's entirety. He evaded Gestapo interrogations, as authorities were aware Helmy treated Jews. He hid several of Gutman's relatives from Nazi persecution with the help of Frieda Szturmann, also providing for them and attending to their medical needs. Four of Boros-Gutman's relatives would immigrate to the United States. Dr. Mohammed Helmy eventually married Annie Ernst and lived the rest of his life in Berlin, where he died on January 10, 1982. Szturmann passed away two decades earlier, in 1962.

Anna Boros and her relatives sent letters on behalf of Helmy and Szturmann to the Berlin Senate. The Berlin archives were submitted to Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations Department. In 2013, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous awarded them the Righteous Among the Nations title. Helmy was the first Arab to receive the honor. 

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