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Polish Righteous Among the Nations

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Polish Righteous
Medals and diplomas awarded at a ceremony in the Polish Senate on 17 April 2012
Ceremonia wręczenia medali Sprawiedliwy wśród Narodów Świata Senat RP 2012 02.JPG
There are 6,992 Polish men and women recognized as Righteous by the State of Israel

The citizens of Poland have the world's highest count of individuals who have been recognized by Yad Vashem of Jerusalem as the Polish Righteous Among the Nations, for saving Jews from extermination during the Holocaust in World War II. As of 1 January 2019, there are 6,992 Polish men and women recognized as Righteous Among the Nations[1], over a quarter the of 27,362 recognized by Yad Vashem in total.[2]

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Poles concealed and aided hundreds of thousands of their Polish-Jewish neighbors.[3][4] Many of these initiatives were carried out by individuals, but there also existed organized networks of Polish resistance which were dedicated to aiding Jews – most notably, the Żegota organization.

In German-occupied Poland the task of rescuing Jews was especially difficult and dangerous compared to other European countries under German occupation. All household members were punished by death if a Jew was found concealed in their home or on their property.[5] It is estimated that the number of Poles who were killed by the Nazis for aiding Jews was as high as tens of thousands, 704 of whom were posthumously honored with medals.[3]

Activities[edit]

Before World War II, Poland's Jewish community had numbered between 3,300,000[6] and 3,500,000 people – about 10 percent of the country's total population. Following the invasion of Poland, Germany's Nazi regime sent millions of deportees from every European country to the concentration and forced-labor camps set up in the General Government territory of occupied Poland and across the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany.[7] Most Jews were imprisoned in the Nazi ghettos, which they were forbidden to leave. Soon after the German–Soviet war had broken out in 1941, the Germans began their extermination of Polish Jews on either side of the Curzon Line, parallel to the ethnic cleansing of the Polish population including Romani and other minorities of Poland.[7]

As it became apparent that, not only were conditions in the ghettos terrible (hunger, diseases, executions), but that the Jews were being singled out for extermination at the Nazi death camps, they increasingly tried to escape from the ghettos and hide in order to survive the war.[8] Many Polish Gentiles concealed hundreds of thousands of their Jewish neighbors. Many of these efforts arose spontaneously from individual initiatives, but there were also organized networks dedicated to aiding the Jews.[9]

Most notably, in September 1942 a Provisional Committee to Aid Jews (Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Żydom) was founded on the initiative of Polish novelist Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, of the famous artistic and literary Kossak family. This body soon became the Council for Aid to Jews (Rada Pomocy Żydom), known by the codename Żegota, with Julian Grobelny as its president and Irena Sendler as head of its children's section.[10][11]

It is not exactly known how many Jews were helped by Żegota, but at one point in 1943 it had 2,500 Jewish children under its care in Warsaw alone. At the end of the war, Sendler attempted to locate their parents but nearly all of them had died at Treblinka. It is estimated that about half of the Jews who survived the war (thus over 50,000) were aided in some shape or form by Żegota.[12]

In numerous instances, Jews were saved by entire communities, with everyone engaged,[13] such as in the villages of Markowa[14] and Głuchów near Łańcut,[15] Główne, Ozorków, Borkowo near Sierpc, Dąbrowica near Ulanów, in Głupianka near Otwock,[16] Teresin near Chełm,[17] Rudka, Jedlanka, Makoszka, Tyśmienica, and Bójki in Parczew-Ostrów Lubelski area,[18] and Mętów, near Głusk. Numerous families who concealed their Jewish neighbours paid the ultimate price for doing so.[14]

Risk[edit]

Warning of death penalty
for supporting Jews
Bekanntmachung General Government Poland 1942.jpg
NOTICE

Concerning:
the Sheltering of Escaping Jews.
   There is a need for a reminder, that in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of 15 October 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in the General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.


   According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty.


   This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against:
         1) Providing shelter to Jews,
         2) Supplying them with Food,
         3) Selling them Foodstuffs.
Częstochowa 9/24/42     

Der Stadthauptmann
Dr. Franke

During the occupation of Poland (1939–1945), the Nazi German administration created hundreds of ghettos surrounded by walls and barbed-wire fences in most metropolitan cities and towns, with gentile Poles on the 'Aryan side' and the Polish Jews crammed into a fraction of the city space. Anyone from the Aryan side caught assisting those on the Jewish side in obtaining food was subject to the death penalty.[19][20] The usual punishment for aiding Jews was death, applied to entire families.[5][21][22] On 10 November 1941, the death penalty was expanded by Hans Frank to apply to Poles who helped Jews "in any way: by taking them in for the night, giving them a lift in a vehicle of any kind" or "feed[ing] runaway Jews or sell[ing] them foodstuffs". The law was made public by posters distributed in all major cities. Polish rescuers were fully conscious of the dangers facing them and their families, not only from the invading Germans, but also from betrayers (see: szmalcowniks) within the local, multi-ethnic population and the Volksdeutsche.[23] The Nazis implemented a law forbidding all non-Jews from buying from Jewish shops under the maximum penalty of death.[24]

Gunnar S. Paulsson, in his work on history of the Jews of Warsaw, has demonstrated that, despite the much harsher conditions, Warsaw's Polish residents managed to support and conceal the same percentage of Jews as did the residents of cities in safer countries of Western Europe, where no death penalty for saving them ever existed.[25] Current estimates of the number of Poles who were killed by the Nazis for aiding Jews range in the tens of thousands.[3]

Numbers[edit]

There are 6,992 officially recognized Polish Righteous – the highest count among nations of the world. At a 1979 international historical conference dedicated to Holocaust rescuers, J. Friedman said in reference to Poland: "If we knew the names of all the noble people who risked their lives to save the Jews, the area around Yad Vashem would be full of trees and would turn into a forest."[4]

Hans G. Furth holds that the number of Poles who helped Jews is greatly underestimated and there might have been as many as 1,200,000 Polish rescuers.[4] Władysław Bartoszewski, a wartime member of Żegota, estimates that "at least several hundred thousand Poles... participated in various ways and forms in the rescue action."[3] Recent research supports estimates that about a million Poles were involved in such rescue efforts,[3] "but some estimates go as high as 3 million."[3]

Father John T. Pawlikowski (a Servite priest from Chicago)[26] remarked that the hundreds of thousands of rescuers strike him as inflated.[27]

Notable rescuers[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Righteous Among the Nations Honored by Yad Vashem" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Names of Righteous by Country | www.yadvashem.org". www.yadvashem.org. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Richard C. Lukas, Out of the Inferno: Poles Remember the Holocaust University Press of Kentucky 1989 – 201 pages. Page 13; also in Richard C. Lukas, The Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles Under German Occupation, 1939–1944, University Press of Kentucky 1986 – 300 pages.
  4. ^ a b c Furth, Hans G. (1999). "One million Polish rescuers of hunted Jews?". Journal of Genocide Research. 1 (2): 227–232. doi:10.1080/14623529908413952. Thousands of helping acts were done on impulse, on the spur of the moment, lasting no longer than a few seconds to a few hours: such as a quick warning from mortal danger, giving some food or water, showing the way, sheltering from cold or exhaustion for a few hours. None of these acts can be recorded in full detail, with persons and names counted; yet without them the survival of thousands of Jews would not have been possible.[228] If these people are anywhere typical of non-Jews under the Nazis, the percentage of 20 percent [rescuers] represents a huge number of many millions. I was truly astonished when I read these numbers...[230]
  5. ^ a b “Righteous Among the Nations” by country at Jewish Virtual Library
  6. ^ London Nakl. Stowarzyszenia Prawników Polskich w Zjednoczonym Królestwie [1941] ,Polska w liczbach. Poland in numbers. Zebrali i opracowali Jan Jankowski i Antoni Serafinski. Przedmowa zaopatrzyl Stanislaw Szurlej.
  7. ^ a b Franciszek Piper. "The Number of Victims" in Gutman, Yisrael & Berenbaum, Michael. Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp, Indiana University Press, 1994; this edition 1998, p. 62.
  8. ^ Martin Gilbert. The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust. Macmillan, 2003. pp 101.
  9. ^ Tadeusz Piotrowski (1997). "Assistance to Jews". Poland's Holocaust. McFarland & Company. p. 117. ISBN 0-7864-0371-3.
  10. ^ John T. Pawlikowski, Polish Catholics and the Jews during the Holocaust, in, Google Print, p. 113 in Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-8135-3158-6
  11. ^ Andrzej Sławiński, Those who helped Polish Jews during WWII. Translated from Polish by Antoni Bohdanowicz. Article on the pages of the London Branch of the Polish Home Army Ex-Servicemen Association. Last accessed on 14 March 2008.
  12. ^ Tadeusz Piotrowski (1997). "Assistance to Jews". Poland's Holocaust. McFarland & Company. p. 118. ISBN 0-7864-0371-3.
  13. ^ Dariusz Libionka, "Polska ludność chrześcijańska wobec eksterminacji Żydów—dystrykt lubelski," in Dariusz Libionka, Akcja Reinhardt: Zagłada Żydów w Generalnym Gubernatorstwie Archived 4 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine (Warsaw: Instytut Pamięci Narodowej–Komisja Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, 2004), p.325. (in Polish)
  14. ^ a b The Righteous and their world. Markowa through the lens of Józef Ulma, by Mateusz Szpytma, Institute of National Remembrance
  15. ^ Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Wystawa „Sprawiedliwi wśród Narodów Świata”– 15 czerwca 2004 r., Rzeszów. "Polacy pomagali Żydom podczas wojny, choć groziła za to kara śmierci – o tym wie większość z nas." (Exhibition "Righteous among the Nations." Rzeszów, 15 June 2004. Subtitled: "The Poles were helping Jews during the war – most of us already know that.") Last actualization 8 November 2008. (in Polish)
  16. ^ Jolanta Chodorska, ed., "Godni synowie naszej Ojczyzny: Świadectwa," Warsaw, Wydawnictwo Sióstr Loretanek, 2002, Part Two, pp.161–62. ISBN 83-7257-103-1 (in Polish)
  17. ^ Kalmen Wawryk, To Sobibor and Back: An Eyewitness Account (Montreal: The Concordia University Chair in Canadian Jewish Studies, and The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, 1999), pp.66–68, 71.
  18. ^ Bartoszewski and Lewinówna, Ten jest z ojczyzny mojej, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Znak, 1969, pp.533–34.
  19. ^ Donald L. Niewyk, Francis R. Nicosia, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust, Columbia University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-231-11200-9, Google Print, p.114
  20. ^ Antony Polonsky, 'My Brother's Keeper?': Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust, Routledge, 1990, ISBN 0-415-04232-1, Google Print, p.149
  21. ^ Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project: Poland
  22. ^ Robert D. Cherry, Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Rethinking Poles and Jews: Troubled Past, Brighter Future, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007, ISBN 0-7425-4666-7, Google Print, p.5
  23. ^ Mordecai Paldiel, The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews, page 184. Published by KTAV Publishing House Inc.
  24. ^ Iwo Pogonowski, Jews in Poland, Hippocrene, 1998. ISBN 0-7818-0604-6. Page 99.
  25. ^ Unveiling the Secret City Archived 12 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine H-Net Review: John Radzilowski
  26. ^ Margaret Monahan Hogan, ed. (2011). "Remembering the Response of the Catholic Church" (PDF file, direct download 1.36 MB). History 1933 – 1948. What we choose to remember. University of Portland. pp. 85–97. Retrieved 21 June 2013.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  27. ^ John T. Pawlikowski. Polish Catholics and the Jews during the Holocaust: Heroism, Timidity, and Collaboration. In: Joshua D. Zimmerman, Contested Memories: Poles and Jews During the Holocaust and Its Aftermath, Rutgers University Press, 2003.
  28. ^ a b c Anna Poray, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 March 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  29. ^ W. Bartoszewski and Z. Lewinowna, Appeal by the Polish Underground Association For Aid to the Jews, Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority, 2004.
  30. ^ Anna Poray, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  31. ^ Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority 2008, The Righteous: Anna Borkowska, Poland
  32. ^ ""Saving Jews: Polish Righteous" (b-v): Banasiewicz family including Franciszek, Magdalena, Maria, Tadeusz and Jerzy". Web.archive.org. 6 February 2008. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  33. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 6 February 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  34. ^ Kystyna Danko, Poland; International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation
  35. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  36. ^ About Maria Fedecka at www.mariafedecka.republika.pl Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, 2005
  37. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link), 2004.
  38. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  39. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 25 August 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  40. ^ The Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem
  41. ^ Mordecai Paldiel, "Churches and the Holocaust: unholy teaching, good samaritans, and reconciliation" p.209-210, KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2006, ISBN 0-88125-908-X, ISBN 978-0-88125-908-7
  42. ^ Cypora (Jablon) Zonszajn in Siedlce, Poland. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  43. ^ Sylwia Kesler, Halina and Julian Grobelny as Righteous Among the Nations
  44. ^ Holocaust Memorial Center, 1988 – 2007, Opdyke, Irene; Righteous Gentile
  45. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) Armia Krajowa mayor.
  46. ^ Stefan Jagodzinski at the www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
  47. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  48. ^ Poles Honoured by Israel, Warsaw Life news agency
  49. ^ Anna Poray, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  50. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 19 March 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  51. ^ Michael T. Kaufman, Jan Karski warns the West about Holocaust, The New York Times, 15 July 2000
  52. ^ Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority, The Tree in Honor of Zegota, 2008
  53. ^ "Maria Kotarba at www.auschwitz.org.pl" (PDF). Auschwitz.org.pl. Retrieved 27 December 2012.[permanent dead link]
  54. ^ Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2008, The Righteous Among the Nations, 28 June 2003
  55. ^ Peggy Curran, "Pole to be honoured for sheltering Jews from Gestapo," Reprinted by the Canadian Foundation of Polish-Jewish Heritage, Montreal Chapter. Station Cote St.Luc, C. 284, Montreal QC, Canada H4V 2Y4. First published: Montreal Gazette, 5 August 2003, and: Montreal Gazette, 10 December 1994.
  56. ^ "Jerzy Jan Lerski. From biography featured in ''Historical Dictionary of Poland, 966–1945''". Web.ku.edu. 27 December 2012.
  57. ^ March of the Living International, The Warsaw Ghetto Archived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  59. ^ David M. Crowe, The Holocaust: Roots, History, and Aftermath. Published by Westview Press. Page 180.
  60. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) Polish Educational Foundation in North America, Toronto 2007. "Collective Rescue Efforts of the Poles", (pdf file: 1.44 MB).
  61. ^ Stefania and her younger sister Helena Podgorska, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C., 2008
  62. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 5 July 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  63. ^ "Urodziny s. Cecylii Marii Roszak – najstarszej zakonnicy na świecie". niedziela.pl.
  64. ^ www.mateusz.pl – interview with Konrad Rudnicki (Polish)
  65. ^ Monika Scislowska, Associated Press, 12 May 2008, "Irena Sendler, Holocaust hero dies at 98". Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  66. ^ Grzegorz Łubczyk, FKCh "ZNAK" 1999–2008, Henryk Slawik – Our Raoul Wallenberg Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Trybuna 120 (3717), 24 May 2002, p. Aneks 204, p. A, F.
  67. ^ Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, „Sprawiedliwi wśród Narodów Świata” – Warszawa, 7 stycznia 2004
  68. ^ "Sunday – Catholic Magazine". Sunday.niedziela.pl. Retrieved 7 October 2011.
  69. ^ FKCh "ZNAK" – 1999–2008,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 March 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) 24 July 2003, from the Internet Archive
  70. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 16 June 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  71. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) . 2004
  72. ^ Yad Vashem Remembrance Authority, 2008, Hiding in Zoo Cages; Jan & Antonina Zabinski, Poland
  73. ^ Anna Poray,"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2008. Retrieved 15 June 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)

References[edit]