FRANCE:German Occupation, Nazis, Jews, and Shah of Iran
Nushin Namazi from Iran writes: During the German occupation of France, several Iranian Jews took refuge in the Iranian embassy, claiming that they were Iranians from the Achamanishian era. The Nazis came and demanded that they be handed over to them. The Iranian ambassador refused, saying that indeed they were Iranians and therefore under the protection of Iran. Then he appealed to the Shah for 500 additional blank visas for the Iranian Jews and European Jews. Mohammad Reza Shah, the King of Iran, granted the request, and in this way 500 European Jews came to Iran with Iranian passports in 1940's. This shows several points --the humanitarian nature of the Shah of Iran; he was the reverse of what the Western and clerical press wrote about him. It also goes against the description of the Shah by Paul Kriwaczek and the European press. I read last year --the book in which- this Austrian BBC reporter refers to the Shah as a "monster." Far from it, he was democratic and a humanitarian. I refer Christopher Jones to Farah Pahlavi's book--Enduring Love. Also, the Shahbanou prefers to be called by her married name Farah Pahlavi--not Farah Diba, her maiden name. Christopher Jones should at least respect the former Queen when he refers to her. After he has read the book, then I will be interested in his opinion.
Nushin Namazi reported how the Iranian Ambassador to Nazi Germany saved 500 Jews who claimed to be of Persian origin. Cameron Sawyer comments: The Jewish community of Persia dates back 2500 years, having never endured any particular oppression through those long millenia until the very recent Islamic Revolution. See http://www.la.utexas.edu/chenry/aip/press99/101799iran-jews.html. <http://www.la.utexas.edu/chenry/aip/press99/101799iran-jews.html.%A0%A0> The incident cited by Nushin Namazi reflects less on the Shah than on the Iranian people themselves. May God grant these people, so delicate and refined, such great contributors to world civilization, some kind of reprieve from their present tribulations.
Did any WAISers, by the way, see the splendid film "House of Sand and Fog"? This was my personal favorite of 2003. Directed by a young Russian director, Vadim Perelman, it tells the story of an Iranian immigrant (played by the great Ben Kingsley) in California, whose fate collides with that of young American woman, hard on her luck, whose house gets auctioned off by mistake for unpaid taxes. The story is constructed according to the strictest principles of Greek tragedy. Besides that, it is beautifully filmed. All the characters are portrayed with an incisive understanding of their point of view. Their are no villains, but everyone ends up screwed, as it were, by the gods. My wife and I both cried. If you haven't seen it, do!
Ronald Hilton 2004
February 28, 2005