Head of the
Jewish Agency office in Istanbul
1944, during Brand’s arrival in Istanbul, Polish-born Barlas was the head
of the Jewish Agency’s office in Istanbul. Located on the edge of warring
Europe, Turkey in the East and Switzerland in the West became invaluable
venues as listening posts, financial support sources and political
assistance stations in all matters concerning the rescue of refugees.
Barlas, acted as liaison with the US ambassador to Turkey Laurence
Steinhardt in Ankara. The Istanbul office transferred funds via known
couriers to the Rescue Committees in Budapest and Bratislava, tried to
gain temporary entry permits into Turkey for refugees presented with a
chance of escape and made every effort to pass illegal immigrant ships
through to Palestine defying the British naval blockade.
Barlas maintained close relations with the Vatican’s Nuncio to Turkey, the
Apostolic Delegate Roncalli, who made every effort to elicit protests from
the Pope. As a result of some of his efforts, the Pope sent warnings to
the local rulers in Slovakia and Hungary, to Father Tiso and to Horthy,
demanding that they put an immediate stop to the inhuman treatment of Jews
and to the deportations. Roncalli, the Nuncio to Turkey and Greece became
Pope John XXIII.
Barlas headed this important office until the end of the war when he
presumably returned to Jerusalem.
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