“Having witnessed the Armenian Genocide, we decided to save them” Pran Tashchiyan
Ara Jeretzian was born into an Armenian family in Istanbul in 1918. Together with his parents, he immigrated to Hungary as a boy. In his new home, he began to go by the name György.
At the beginning of the 1930s Jeretzian joined the Arrow Cross party’s youth movement, but because he did not approve of the party’s policy of violence against Jews, he quit.
In 1944, Jeretzian was appointed commander of civilian defense in Budapest’s sixth quarter. During the rule of the Arrow Cross he used his position to save as many Jews as possible. He organized a clinic in a house that was under the protection of the Swedish embassy. In the clinic, a small hospital in fact, injured civilians and soldiers were treated free of charge.
Some 40 Jewish doctors, holding forged Aryan documents supplied by Jeretzian, were employed at the clinic and lived there with their families. Jeretzian used his old connections with the Arrow Cross party to get permits and licenses, and forged documents and stamps for “his” clinic, which he used to order equipment and supplies. In the clinic, careful records were kept by Laszló Nagy, documenting every casualty, every drug used and every patient who was admitted, treated and discharged safely.
These records made a special impression on the Arrow Cross, who did not enter the clinic. Although they had been told that Jeretzian was hiding Jews, it was decided that such a “patriotic” institution – one that treated Hungarian soldiers and civilians without charge – was above suspicion.
Jeretzian covered clinic costs out of his own pocket, and protected the lives of 400 Jews, in addition to doctors, until the liberation. After the war, his survivors urged the Hungarian regime to award Jeretzian official recognition for his bravery and heroism, but they were unsuccessful.
Ara Jeretzian left Hungary at the beginning of the 1960s and settled in Vienna.
On February 26, 1981, Yad Vashem recognized Ara Jeretzian as Righteous Among the Nations.
Yad Vashem would like to thank Ara Jeretzian Jr. for providing additional materials and background for this story.