Saturday, August 03, 2013

German industrialist who rescued Jews during World War II dies 

Berthold Beitz, a leading German industrialist credited with saving hundreds of Jews by putting them to work at the oil fields he managed in Nazi-occupied Poland, died June 30 at the age of 99.

ThyssenKrupp AG, the German industrial conglomerate announced Mr. Beitz's death, but did not give any details.

Beitz led Krupp, the German steel empire, for years following the war, The Washington Post reports.
When World War II broke out, the Nazis opted to keep the oil company worker at the oil fields. Beitz wielded a considerable amount of power, which he used to create unneeded jobs that saved hundreds of Jews from being deported to death camps, The New York Times reports.

Beitz was once quoted as saying he should have employed "qualified personnel," but instead he chose tailors, hairdressers and Talmudic scholars, The Washington Post reports.

In 1944, he was drafted to the army, leaving the Jews in workforce unprotected. Many were deported to Auschwitz, but others escaped. Some found work at the factory run by Oskar Schindler.

He and his wife Else risked their own lives by hiding Jews in their home and always warned his Jewish acquaintances about impending roundups and deportation.

In 2006, Else was recognized by Yad Vashem as "Righteous Among Nations."

It is estimated that Berthold Beitz saved around 800 Jews.

He played an integral role in the rebuilding of postwar Germany, turning it into an "industrial powerhouse," The New York Times reports.

At the height of his career, Beitz was one of the most successful and influential businessmen in Europe. During the Cold War, he made news by meeting with business leaders on both sides including Detroit auto executives and Soviet Premier Nikita Krushcev, who had him over for a "21-hour chat" according to Time.


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