A new documentary, “The Last Manilaners,” sheds light on the story of the last living Holocaust survivors who fled to the Philippines during World War II.
The film production gathered all of the living survivors, who were in their 80s and 90s, to tell each of their stories on how Filipinos protected them and regarded them as a family when they had to flee for their lives during WWII, according to Esquire.
“If it were not for the Philippines, none of us, none of us, would exist,” survivor Lotte Hershfield said.
“Our lives were equal to those of the Filipinos under the war, and there was no discrimination,” another survivor, Margot Pints Kestenbaum, said.
Hershfield, Kestenbaum and Max Weissler were only three of the 1,300 Jews who found refuge in the Philippines thanks to late President Manuel L. Quezon’s open-door policy.
The policy had accommodated Jewish refugees who fled Europe from 1935 to 1941, according to ABS-CBN News.
Apart from sheltering thousands of Jews during the war, the Philippines also cast a crucial vote in a United Nations resolution which led to the creation of the State of Israel.
“We will never forget how President Manuel Quezon opened the doors of the Philippines to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe during the Holocaust,” Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz said.
As a sign of gratitude, Israel granted visa-free access to all Filipinos. In 2009, the country erected the Open Doors Monument to remember how Filipinos once protected the Jewish refugees.
“The Last Manilaners,” which is a follow-up to the “Quezon’s Game” documentary about how the president butted heads with the United States to save as many Jewish people as he could, was released on Jan. 27 on iWant. The release of the film coincides with the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
Feature Image Screenshot via iWant