25 World War II Heroes Who Put Their Lives On The Line

Posted by on April 22, 2013

In the midst of the pain, death, and horror of war there are numerous stories of ordinary people stepping up to the plate and making heroic sacrifices for their fellow soldiers and countrymen. Although the names and stories of most of these everyday heroes perish with history, every once in a while, one of those stories becomes legend and is told from generation to generation. These are the stories of 25 World War II heroes who put their lives on the line.


Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz

Even though Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz was a member of the German forces during War World II, it did not mean that he hated the Jews as much as some of his comrades did. In fact, when Duckwitz learned of the roundup of the Danish Jews on October 1, 1943 he called politician Hans Hedtoft with an idea that would allow thousands of Jews to escape. At the end of the day he made it look like a failure on his part.


Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg, an envoy to Budapest from Sweden, was able to rescue about one hundred thousand Jews in Hungary by issuing documents to assure the safety of these Hungarian Jews from being deported and being brought into Nazi camps outside the country.


Giorgio Perlasca

When Giorgio Perlasca escaped to Hungary after many months of being detained in prison, he was able to convince the Nazis that he was a Spanish diplomat. Thanks to his perfect cover, he was able to give visas to many Jews, which they then used as a means of escape.


Angel Sanz Briz

Like Girgio Perlasca, Angel Sanz Briz was actually a Spanish diplomat to the country of Hungary. He was able to protect thousands of Jews from the Nazis by granting amnesty given that Spain was neutral during the World War.


Coronel Jose Arturo Castellanos Contreras

El Salvador could never be any more proud of Coronel Jose Arturo Castellanos Contreras as he played a major role in protecting numerous Jews in Switzerland during the World War. In fact, this Salvadorian diplomat made sure that over 25,000 Jews were able to get away from the Nazis by issuing them Salvadorian visas.


Charles Coward

Charles Joseph Coward, known as the “Count of Auschwitz”, was a British soldier captured during World War II who rescued Jews from Auschwitz and smuggled himself into Auschwitz for one night, subsequently testifying about his experience at the Nuremberg Trials and the IG Farben Trial.


Oskar Schindler

At first, Oskar Schindler hired about a thousand Jewish laborers for his business, as they were very cheap to obtain. What he had originally been done for the money changed to a rescue operation when he saw how the Jews were being detained and murdered. He began using his war-essential industry to protect them from being taken away by employing women, children, the elderly, and even those with physical disabilities as mechanics and assembly line workers.


Abdol Hossein Sardari

When Abdol Hossein Sardari was in charge of the Iranian consular office in Paris back in 1941, he had done all he could to save Iranian Jews by contesting to Nazi generals and soldiers that Iranian families who had been present in the country since the Persian Empire had agreements for protection and safety from aggression. He was successful with many of his appeals and even ended up issuing Iranian passports to non-Iranian Jews.


Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara chose to disobey the government and exercise his full power as Japanese consul in Kaunas, Lithuania by issuing handwritten visas to many Jews, regardless of origin or race. It was said that he even wrote visas while traveling around the country via train, throwing them out of the windows. He was able to help over 6,000 Jews because of his selfless endeavor.


John Rabe

At a time when the Japanese were attacking the Chinese in Nanking, John Rabe was one of the few remaining foreigners who stayed despite the attack and established the Nanking Safe Zone. He used his influence as a member of the Nazi Party in order to control the situation and attempted to delay the attack as much as possible. His efforts led to nearly a quarter million Chinese lives being saved.


Monsignor Hugh O’flaherty

The famous “Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican” has been recognized due to his way of evading the many traps that were set by the Gestapo while visiting POW camps and helping both Allied missing-in-action soldiers and Jews to safety.


Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches

With possibly the hardest to remember name on the list, his actions were anything but. Even though he knew that the Portuguese government was against helping the Jews he still issued tens of thousands of visas. Although his efforts saved numerous lives he was eventually exiled and died in poverty.


Necdet Kent

Necdet Kent was a Turkish diplomat who risked his life to save Jews during World War II. While vice-consul in Marseilles, France between 1941 and 1944, he gave documents of citizenship to dozens of Turkish Jews living in France who did not have proper identity papers, to save them from deportation to the Nazi gas chambers.


Douglas McArthur

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army who was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign, which made him and his father Arthur MacArthur, Jr., the first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the U.S. Army, and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army.


Alvin York

Alvin Cullum York, known also by his nickname, Sergeant York, was one of the most decorated American soldiers in World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, killing 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others.