WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — One man named Jose Maria Marreto in Peru went against the orders of his own government and followed the orders of his conscience saving many Jewish families from being forced into concentration camps. Now, years later he’s being recognized posthumously.
His grandson, Ovi De Rivero currently a resident of bald head island accepted the Righteous Among Nations Award on his behalf.
“After 69 years of silence, there was some vindication,” De Rivero said. “I feel very proud.”
This award is given to non-jews that helped save lives of Jewish people during World War II.
A ceremony at B’nai Israel held was in his honor. About 100 folks from Wilmington’s Jewish community came together to recognize Marretto.
Member Lyne Glaser says celebrations like this help keep the memory of those that were lost alive.
“There were people like Mr. Marreto that were able to stand up and be counted when it was so hard to do so,” Glaser said.
While Marretto was working as a diplomat in Peru, He illegally gave passports to Jews so they could immigrate rather than face concentration camp.
this honor is the same that was placed upon Oskar Shindler, who’s story was made famous in the Stephen Speilberg film “Shindler’s list.”
De Rivero says his grandfather would have been recognized sooner, had he not been acting in direct opposition to the Peruvian government.
“The actions of my grandfather were classified documents in the foreign office of Peru,” De Rivero said.
In 2012, those became unclassified and published in a book. Now, Marrettos name will live on as a hero.