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  • "Mrs. Cardoso: my condolences and sympathies regarding the..."
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CARDOSO ARIEL S. CARDOSO Ariel S. Cardoso, a retired Foreign Service Staff employee, passed away quietly on March 9, 2013 at his home in Washington, DC. He was 94 and a Holocaust survivor. He was born in 1918 in Florence, Italy, to Jewish parents who later moved to Rome. In 1936, he was admitted to the pre-med program of the Liceo Scientifico of Rome. His ambition to be a physician was abruptly ended before he could enter medical school. The Italian fascist government had enacted racial laws prohibiting Jews from attending public and private educational institutions. Following German occupation of Italy in late 1943, Ariel joined the partisans fighting the Germans and the family went into hiding among Christian neighbors who refused to report them. Ariel prepared escape plans should they learn of imminent arrest. One example, he wore an armband that "identified" him as a member of the Rome municipal military. After liberation of Rome in 1944, Ariel served with the British Eighth Army, simultaneously applying to British authorities to immigrate to Palestine to join the Jewish Brigade. The authorities approved and he left. Upon arrival, he joined the Brigade and trained at Sarafano and Ismailia, Egypt before being sent to Italy, then to France, the Netherlands and Belgium. At war's end, he helped the Haganah smuggle Jewish refugees into Palestine. He then returned to Palestine to fight in Israel's War of Independence, serving as an ambulance driver and medical aide. In 1952, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv hired him as a local employee. There he met his future wife Mary Randall of San Antonio, Texas. In 1955, Mary was transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Ariel resigned his position at the Embassy and followed her to Rome, where he worked at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). In the spring of 1960, he was instrumental in organizing a community-wide Passover seder at FAO that hundreds attended, including government officials, international persona and tourists. Mary and Ariel were married in Rome in 1960; Ariel became a U.S. citizen a year later. When Mary was transferred to the consulate in Enugu, Nigeria, Ariel took a job with the U.S. Information Service there. They chose to serve as a couple in "hardship posts," taking assignments in Africa, Indonesia and Europe. Ariel became a regular employee of the Foreign Service in 1967. Over the next 12 years, he served in Zanzibar, Jakarta, Lesotho, Gambia, Budapest and East Berlin, his and Mary's last duty station, where he was Vice Consul. In Budapest, he participated in the return to Hungary of the historic Crown of St. Stephen, leading to improved US-Hungarian relations. He retired in 1979, and with Mary settled in Washington, DC. Ariel was a man of quiet dignity and gentlemanly bearing, with a keen mind and a concern for others. He loved the arts, especially opera and the ballet, one criterion that persuaded him and Mary to select a residence a short walk from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He was actively committed to the mission of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, giving it the many wartime items he had acquired through his experiences fighting the Fascist and Nazi military in World War II. He enjoyed travel, especially the many cruises with Mary on the great rivers of Europe, experiencing historic towns, cathedrals and galleries. He also enjoyed a good game of scrabble, despite English not being his first language, and was an avid reader of world news. He spoke little of his wartime experiences, but took great pride in his service to the United States and Israel. His wife Mary and several nephews and nieces survive him. Contributions in his memory may be made to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, of which Ariel was a charter member. His wife Mary and several nephews and nieces survive him. Contributions in his memory may be made to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, of which Ariel was a charter member.

Published in The Washington Post on Apr. 7, 2013
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