Carl Lutz commemorative material

Language of Description
Alt. Identifiers
  • 2014.387.1
1 Jan 1999 - 31 Dec 2014
Level of Description
  • English
  • German
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium




Biographical History

Charles (Carl) Lutz (1895-1975) was the Swiss vice-consul in Budapest between 1942 and 1945. Born in Walzenhausen, Switzerland, Lutz moved to the United States in 1913 at the age of 18. While studying at the George Washington University, he joined the Swiss diplomatic service and became chancellor at the Swiss legation in Washington, D.C. In 1935, Lutz was sent to Palestine, where he was appointed vice-consul at the Swiss consulate in Jaffa. On January 2, 1942, Lutz was reassigned to the Swiss consulate in Budapest, where he was appointed Chief of the Department of Foreign Interests of the Swiss legation. There he represented the interests of the U.S., Great Britain and twelve other countries that had severed formal relations with Hungary because of its alliance with Nazi Germany. In his capacity as neutral Swiss representative of British interests in Hungary, Lutz organized the issuing of Palestine certificates (endorsed by the British authorities), to Jews seeking to escape from Hungary. In his efforts to shield Hungarian Jewry from persecution, Lutz also pioneered the use of the Schutzbrief, an official letter issued by the legation to protect the young emigrants from being drafted into the Hungarian labor service and later from deportation while they awaited passage to Palestine. The use of the Schutzbriefe or Schutzpasse was later adopted by the Swedish, Portuguese and Spanish consular offices in Budapest to protect Jews from deportation. Soon after the German takeover of Hungary in March 1944, Lutz placed the staff of the Jewish Council for Palestine in Budapest under his diplomatic protection and renamed it the Department of Emigration of the Swiss Legation. This department was soon moved to the Glass House on Vadasz Street and ultimately became a refuge for more than 4,000 Budapest Jews. At this time Lutz also began to issue tens of thousands of new Schutzbriefe (eventually numbering more than 50,000), in addition to the 8,000 already issued to Jews waiting to leave for Palestine. When Hungarian and German authorities initiated the ghettoization of Budapest Jewry, Lutz established 76 safe houses in the Saint Stephen ghetto and put them under his diplomatic protection. In addition to being repeatedly compelled to rush out to stop Arrow Cross bands from raiding his safe houses, Lutz was called upon on several occasions to drive to the Obuda brickyards concentration camp to rescue Jews who were about to be deported. In November 1944 he was responsible for liberating an entire column of 1,000 Jews who had been dispatched on a death march from Budapest to the Austrian border. After the war Lutz received a letter of reprimand from authorities in Switzerland for overstepping his authority in helping the Jews of Budapest. Lutz divorced his first wife, Gertrud in the late 1940s, and in 1949 married Maria Magdalena Grausz (Magda), one of the Hungarian Jewish women he protected during the war. He also adopted her daughter, Agnes. Lutz retired from the diplomatic service in 1961. Four years later, in 1965, Lutz was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Archival History

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Agnes Hirschi

Agnes Hirschi donated commemorative material related to her father to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2014.

Scope and Content

Consists of a first-issue commemorative stamp and envelope, issued on September 29, 1999, featuring Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz. Also includes a post-war photographic print portrait of Lutz, and a printed program for a ceremony at George Washington University, dated March 3, 2014, at which Lutz was posthumously honored with the University's President's Medal for his work in Budapest in 1944.




This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.