by Menachem Z. Rosensaft

On April 19, 1945, literally days before the end of World War II, Norbert Masur, a German-born representative of the Swedish section of the World Jewish Congress, flew from Stockholm to Berlin for a secret meeting with Heinrich Himmler, the head of Nazi Germany’s notorious SS. The trip had been arranged with the full knowledge and approval of the Swedish Foreign Ministry. On the plane, Masur later wrote, “I had time to think about the mission. For me as a Jew, it was a deeply moving thought, that, in a few hours, I would be face to face with the man who was primarily responsible for the destruction of several million Jewish people. But my agitation was dampened by the thought that I finally would have the important opportunity to be of help to many of my tormented fellow Jews.”

More than two days later, in the early hours of April 21, Masur met with Himmler for two and a half hours at an estate near the German capital and negotiated the release of more than 1,000 Jews from the concentration camp of Ravensbr