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Tom & Andy Pattantyus: WWII heroism celebrated in today’s Israel

Right here, right now!

Posted: September 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Last week, we spent five beautiful and memorable days in Israel.

The trip had two goals: first, to pay homage to the memory of Imre Pattantyus (1891-1956), who was Tom’s father and one of Andy’s grandfathers, who had posthumously been recognized by Yad Vashem and the state of Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations.

The second reason was to take part in the program Restoring Courage organized by Glenn Beck. 

The Righteous Among the Nations are non-Jewish persons (deceased or alive) who saved Jewish lives during the terrible years of the European Holocaust. I.P. saved two families, the Winklers and the Lengyels.

Mr. Dezsõ Winkler was a brilliant automotive engineer and designer; Mr. József Lengyel was a bridge and crane designer. Both had leadership positions in the former Hungarian Wagon and Machine Works (now RÁBA) in Gyõr, Hungary. The company was busy manufacturing all sorts of war material and equipment. Both the factory and the city were under German military command, and I.P. was the civilian director in charge of some 10,000 employees.

In fall 1944, the report came to I.P. that Winkler and Lengyel and their families had been crowded into the ghetto, soon to be shipped to Auschwitz. When I.P. got the news, he was able to pull both families out with help of the local military commanders. Weeks later, both families were detained and crowded into a notorious box-car ready to be taken to Auschwitz. Once again, I.P. and the local German commanders pulled both families off the box-cars.

Sometime later, only the families were taken while the husbands were at work.

This time, I.P. was not notified, and thus could not do anything to prevent their deportation.

However, both husbands were obliged to continue working for the company until late February 1945, when they were also herded on foot to the west with other Jewish men who had not yet been rounded up.

The Soviet army took Gyõr at the end of March 1945, and the Nazi horrors came to an end. The two husbands and their Hungarian military escorts were captured by American troops. The families escaped murder in Auschwitz not because of mercy, but simply because the Germans did not have time to kill them.

The families were reunited in Gyõr in late summer of 1945. Their salvation was due to Imre Pattantyus’ delaying actions, plus his successful appeal to the German commanders.

In 2000, Imre Pattantyus’ name was added to the names of the Righteous Among the Nations, and his name is displayed in the beautiful gardens of the Yad Vashem complex in Israel.

Paying their own way, more than 1,000 people traveled from the U.S. to Israel to attend the Glenn Beck rallies and demonstrate their solidarity with Israel. In between the three Glenn Beck events were sightseeing tours in Jerusalem, Caesarea, Bethlehem and Jaffa.

History came alive as we visited historical sites and walked on the holy ground where great biblical figures and Jesus once walked several millennia ago. Jerusalem contains holy sites of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. These holy sites are secured and carefully maintained by the states of Israel and Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank.

Beck held three events; the first in Caesarea, the second in Jerusalem and the third at the archeological site at the south wall of Old Jerusalem. Attended by Christians and Jews, the Beck events were spiritual and philosophical. Christian and Jewish keynote speakers emphasized love, cooperation, redemption, righteousness and helping others in times of need.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, of Efrat, described Beck as “a deeply patriotic American — a true friend of Israel.”

The Jerusalem Post gave a factual account on Aug. 25, the morning after the closing event.

Left-leaning publications distorted and misrepresented the events, maligning both the Israeli and American participants.

Michael Evans, No. 1 bestseller New York Times author, paraphrased Abba Eban’s quip about the Palestinians, now applied to the Israeli Left: “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

The only aim of the 1,000-plus Americans in the audience, including us, was to show our support for Israel. For this, we are characterized as ultra-right-wing conservatives and evangelical Christian crazies trying to hasten the end of the world.

Tom Pattantyus is a retired electronic engineer and he can be reached at: Andy Pattantyus, president of Strategic Modularity Inc., can be reached at


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