Berthold Beitz: Industrialist who saved hundreds of Jews from the Nazis

 

Berthold Beitz, who died on 30 July at the age of 99, was honoured for saving hundreds of Jews in Poland during the Second World War and became one of post-war West Germany's leading industrialists.

Beitz and his wife, Else, were honoured by Germany's main Jewish group, the Jewish Council, its highest honour, the Leo-Baeck Award in 2000 for saving hundreds of Jewish workers at an oil field he managed in occupied Poland from deportation to Nazi death camps. In 1973, Beitz had been given the Righteous Among the Nations honorific by the Israeli Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, the highest honour given to a Gentile for saving Jews.

He also played a role in world sports as a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1972 to 1988, the last four years as a vice president. He was also a member of the board of the organising committee for the 1972 Olympics in Munich, which were overshadowed by the deaths of 11 members of the Israeli delegation in an attack by Palestinian gunmen.

Beitz was born in 1913 in Zemmin, eastern Germany. He studied to become a banker and took a position at an oil field in occupied Poland in 1939. He saved many of the Jewish workers there from the death camps, sometimes by hiding them in his home. In August 1942 he saved 250 Jews from being deported to the Belzec death camp by claiming they were indispensible to keep up production.

Asked later about his motivation, he said, "There was no anti-Fascism, no resistance. We watched from morning to evening, as close as you can get, what was happening to the Jews ... When you see a woman with her child in her arms being shot, and you yourself have a child, then your response is bound to be completely different."

In the 1950s Beitz agreed to administer the Krupp steel company, which had been heavily involved in armaments production during the war. He headed the company in various positions for around 60 years. In 1967, he launched a foundation with the late Alfried Krupp's fortune supporting projects in Israel, among others. Until recently he went to work at his office in Essen almost every day.

Via the Krupp Foundation he also invested heavily in the arts and the revitalisation of the Ruhr Valley Region, West Germany's industrial heartland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'