In the Lion’s Shadow: The Iranian Schindler and His Homeland in the Second World War By Fariborz Mokhtari
The astonishing story of a brave Iranian diplomat who saved many Jewish lives in World War II—acutely relevant to Iranian-Israeli relations today
After the invasion of France in 1940 a junior Iranian diplomat, the aristocratic Abdol-Hossein Sardari, found himself in charge of Iran’s legation in Paris, and set about cultivating German and Vichy officials in order to protect the Iranian Jewish community in the country. He met the racial purity laws head-on, claiming that despite the fact that some Iranians had followed the teachings of Moses for thousands of years, they had always been of Iranian stock and therefore were “Mosaique” not “Juden”—this book includes the Nazi official correspondence seeking “expert opinion” on this troublesome argument. Alongside the dramatic and romantic narrative of Sardari’s life (he refused to abandon the Iranian Jews in France even when recalled by his government and continued without pay) is the larger picture of the betrayal of Iran’s neutrality by the Allies, then the eventual handing over of Axis diplomats and citizens to the Soviets “to be interrogated severely.” The book argues that contrary to accusations Iran did not favor the Nazis, and employs previously unpublished archival documents to bolster that argument.