Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday officially marked the reburial of Queen Mother Helen of Romania, also known as Helen of Greece and Denmark, with a letter praising the late monarch for her work to aid and rescue Romanian Jews during the Holocaust.
During World War II, despite Romania’s alliance with and domination by Nazi Germany, Helen fought to bring food, medical supplies, and other aid to the country’s Jews, and in 1942 personally intervened to stop a mass deportation of Jews to the death camps.
Following the war, the Soviet-sponsored communist government forced Helen’s son Michael I to abdicate and they both went into exile in 1948. Helen spent most of the rest of her life in Switzerland, where she died in 1982. She was recognized as a “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem in 1993.
Last Friday, Helen’s body was returned to Romania after 37 years and reburied Saturday with royal honors.
In his letter, presented to Princess Margareta of Romania by Israeli Ambassador David Saranga, Rivlin wrote, “I am writing to you to express again the profound gratitude of the Jewish People for [Helen’s] courageous efforts during World War II to rescue Romanian Jews from the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust.”
“Our two nations share a long history, and over the centuries, Jewish citizens of Romania experienced periods when they flourished as well as far less happy times,” he noted.
Of Helen’s actions to save Jews, Rivlin said, “Such noble acts, like those of the late queen Helen, shed a ray of light through the dark years of the Holocaust.”
Rivlin concluded, “I also want to say how much we appreciate all the efforts of the Romanian authorities on programs for Holocaust remembrance, for we strongly believe that only through education, research, and soul-searching is it possible to ensure that such terrible events will never happen again.”