NEW YORK - Tibor Baranski's face now covers part of a wall of a building on the corner of Spring Street and Elizabeth Street in Nolita in Lower Manhattan.
Born in 1922 in Hungary, Baranski was studying to become a Catholic priest when at age 22 he saved more than 3,000 Jews from certain death during the Holocaust, historians say.
Artists 4 Israel CEO Craig Dershowitz said Baranski impersonated a member of the pope's team in Hungary.
"Going to literal the death lines where Jews were going to be executed, pulling them off the line, telling the soldiers there that he had the permission of the pope to do so, driving them out of the country, putting them up in safe houses, creating fake passports for them," Dershowitz said. "Because of this, because of his heroism, he was put on a death march, survived that, and then spent five to seven years in a Russian prison until finally being freed after Stalin's death."
Artists 4 Israel is behind the Righteous Among the Nations Global Mural Project.
"Our goal with this project is to educate people about the terror of unchecked antisemitism, which is very important as that antisemitism seems to keep growing," Dershowitz said. "And to pay honor to those heroes who stood up in the face of hatred and fascism and did above and beyond bravery and courage to rescue those in need."
He wants to honor Baranski's heroism and to educate others about his life and bravery, especially in New York City where antisemitism is increasing.
Fernando "SKI" Romero is the artist who created the Baranski mural.
"I use the style of art in order to have the art relatable," Romero said. "So I use like a Roy Lichtenstein-type of feel where it's like something composed of dots and that would bring the viewer in and then create more dialog."
The goal is to make the public more aware in order to help a new generation to fight the latest resurgence of antisemitism. It also engages the neighborhood; the QR code in the giant painting opens a link that tells Baranski's story.