This year marks the 80th anniversary to one of the most extraordinary humanitarian stories on the eve of World War 2 which centers around the Philippines. This is the Open Door policy initiated and installed by Manuel L. Quezon and the rescue of 1,300 Jewish souls from the Holocaust.
Over the past years, the story was highlighted in a variety of ways with additional research that shed some light on the very unique decision-making process that led to this policy and eventually to the rescue of those people in desperate need.
In the heart of the story is the moral victory of the Philippines in contrast to the moral collapse of many of those that considered themselves enlightened nations. Between the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, the world was facing the darkest chapter in human history. More than 100 million people lost their lives to World War 2 and the Holocaust of the Jewish people became the symbol of the moral collapse as this genocide was totally centered on racism, racial supremacy and megalomania.
Quezon was actually exemplifying a very strong moral conviction and a clear moral compass that was in the heart of his policy decision. He decided to grant 10,000 visas to Jewish refugees escaping the horrors of Nazism in Europe. He had to stand up against strong opposition at home and especially abroad. However, with the support of then US High Commissioner Paul McNutt and leaders of the Jewish community led by the Frieder brothers and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, it was possible for 1,300 out of 10,000 to reach the shores of the Philippines. The unknown story is that many of those refugees turned the Philippines into their homes and among them are many distinguished Filipinos and families.
The events are the subject of a special comic book that was launched in Manila under the title “Open Doors, Open Hearts–the story of how Manuel L. Quezon and the Philippines saved 1,300 Jewish souls from the Holocaust.”