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Joel Brand
Joel Brand in 1961
Born (1906-04-25)25 April 1906
Naszód, Siebenbürgen (Transylvania), Austria-Hungary, now Năsăud, Romania
Died 13 July 1964(1964-07-13) (aged 58)
Bad Kissingen, Germany
Resting place Tel Aviv, Israel
Known for "Blood for goods" proposal
Spouse(s) Haynalka "Hansi" Brand (née Hartmann)

Joel Brand (25 April 1906 – 13 July 1964) was a leading member, in the 1940s, of Budapest's Aid and Rescue Committee, which smuggled Jews out of German-occupied Europe to the relative safety of Hungary during the Holocaust. After Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944, Brand became known for his efforts to save the country's Jews from deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.

In 1935 Brand married Haynalka "Hansi" Hartmann and together they opened a knitwear and glove factory on Rozsa Street, Budapest, which after a few years had a staff of over 100. The couple had met as members of a hachscharah, a group of Jews preparing to move to Palestine to work on a kibbutz, but Brand's plans changed when his mother and three sisters fled to Budapest from Germany and he had to support them.

Brand's involvement in smuggling Jews into Hungary began in July 1941, when Hansi Brand's sister and brother-in-law were caught up in the Kamianets-Podilskyi deportations. The Hungarian government sent 18,000 Jews to German-occupied Ukraine because they were unable to prove they were Hungarian citizens; 14,000–16,000 of them were shot by the SS. Brand paid a Hungarian counter-espionage officer to bring his wife's relatives back safely.

Oskar Schindler became one of the committee's contacts, smuggling letters and money into the Kraków ghetto on their behalf. During a visit by Schindler to Budapest in November 1943, they learned that he had been bribing Nazi officers to let him bring Jewish refugees into his factory in Poland, which he ran as a safe haven.


Brand was never able to put behind him the idea that he might have saved a million lives. In 1961 Life magazine called him "a man who lives in the shadows with a broken heart". He died of a heart attack, aged 58, during a visit to Germany in July 1964, telling an interviewer shortly before his death: "An accident of life placed the fate of one million human beings on my shoulders. I eat and sleep and think only of them."

Over 800 mourners attended his funeral in Tel Aviv. The eulogy was delivered by Gideon Hausner, the attorney general who prosecuted Adolf Eichmann.

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