German President Gauck Hails Berthold Beitz as ‘Man of Century’

German President Joachim Gauck praised the late Berthold Beitz as a “man of the century” at a commemoration in Essen today.

Beitz, a banker and industrialist who rescued Jews from the Nazis during World War II, “has made our country better,” Gauck said in a speech attended by Bundestag President Norbert Lammert and Deputy Chancellor Philipp Roesler.

The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday today, died on July 30. In 1942 he hid Jews in his home in Poland and saved hundreds of men and women from a train destined for the Belzec death camp by claiming them as workers.

Beitz later helped rebuild Fried Krupp GmbH, a predecessor to ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany’s biggest steelmaker.