Hungarian actress Katalin Karady posthumously honored by Yad Vashem - World Jewish Congress

Hungarian actress Katalin Karady posthumously honored by Yad Vashem

Katalin Karady, one of the most popular actresses in Hungary in the 1940s, has been recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial as a Righteous Gentile for her efforts to save Jews during World War II. Born in Budapest in 1912, Karady played mysterious, erotically radiant female characters in many Hungarian films. In 1942, she was put on trial for her efforts to bring George Denes, her Jewish songwriter, back from the Russian front, where he was in a forced-labor battalion. Karady was arrested and tortured together with her lover, Istvan Ujszaszy, after the Germans occupied Hungary in 1944. Ujszaszy, a general in the Hungarian army, was a secret agent working for the British and Allied forces against the Germans, and is believed to have been the model for the main character in the novel “The English Patient.” After the couple was released from jail, Karady succeeded in saving a group of Jewish children who were to be shot on the banks of the Danube River by bribing Hungarian fascists with her gold jewelry. She sheltered the children in her apartment until Budapest was liberated in January 1945. After the war Karady played in only one movie, and left Hungary in 1949. She lived first in Brazil and later moved to New York, where she worked in a small hat shop until she died in 1990.