Gilberto Bosques Saldivar is known as the Mexican Schindler for aiding people during the Holocaust.
He was posted by Mexico to Marseilles, France in 1939 to serve as his government’s consul general. There, Bosques instructed the consulate personnel to help anyone who wished to flee to Mexico as the Nazi persecution gathered force.
He rented two chateaux to house and protect European Jews and other refugees, including leaders of the resistance and Spanish Republicans, who were marked for deportation to concentration camps by the Nazis.
In addition, in the port town of Marseilles he chartered ships to transport Jews and those threatened with persecution to African countries where they later moved on to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and other countries. In two years time, under his auspices, as many as 40,000 visas were issued to those fleeing Nazi tyranny.
In 1943, the Gestapo forcibly took Bosques, his wife and three children and 40 consular staff members into custody, and held them for a year’s captivity in the German town of Bad Godesberg, near Bonn.
Released by an agreement between Mexico and Germany, Bosques was able to return to his native country. His life is a shining example of human decency, moral courage and conviction, and his actions highlight the less well known initiatives of Latin Americans who helped to save Jews during the Holocaust.