Jews Helping Other Jews on the “Aryan side”

In almost every Jewish account of hiding, under German occupation, we find information about how Jews helped each other on the “Aryan side”. They helped others to find a flat or a job, they lent money, they provided information and shared their experiences. They created formal (as part of underground organisations) or informal help networks, including family members, friends or even complete strangers. 

The Yad Vashem Institute does not honour these people with the title of Righteous Among the Nations, as that title is only bestowed upon non-Jews. At POLIN Museum, we would like to commemorate those Jews who helped other Jews on the “Aryan side”. They, also, are Righteous, as understood in the broad and universal accepted sense of the word – they are people who opposed the totalitarianism of Nazi Germany. They also defended dignity and human rights. 

Here, you can read nine stories which we have selected, as well as a historical study by Prof. Barbara Engelking, in which the phenomenon of Jewish self-help is discussed in a problematic manner. We thank Joanna Sobolewska-Pyz, former Chair of the Association of the “Children of the Holocaust” in Poland for inspiring the creation of the section. She owes her survival to, among others, Stanisław Gombiński, a policeman of the Jewish Police Service in the Warsaw ghetto.

Jews helping other Jews on the “Aryan side”: Introduction

During the German occupation, Jews hiding in Warsaw (and elsewhere) received aid not only from Poles, but also – and perhaps above all – from other Jews. Read the historical study by Prof. Barbara Engelking ➔

Janina Rechtleben-Wojciechowska

In November 1940, contrary to German orders, she dod not move into the ghetto established by the Germans in occupied Warsaw. She remained on the “Aryan side”, where she sheltered other Jews ➔

Stanisław Gombiński: Jewish policeman

He exploited his position as an officer of the Jewish Police Service (Polish: Żydowska Służba Porządkowa) to help other Jews during and after the deportation action in the Warsaw Ghetto in the summer of 1942 ➔

Feiga Peltel-Międzyrzecka (Vladka Meed): courier of the JCO

From December 1942, on the “Aryan side” in Warsaw, she procured weapons for the Jewish underground and helped Jews in hiding. She provided photographs for false documents and sought out hiding places ➔

Helena Merenholc: Liaison of “Żegota” in Warsaw

In March 1943, she escaped to the “Aryan side” from the Warsaw ghetto. She became FromShe provided Jews with false documents and monthly financial allowances, as well as searching for hiding places ➔

Maurycy Herling-Grudziński: founder of the “Felicja” cell

From 1943, this lawyer, a brother of Gustaw, a well-known post-war writer, ran a cell under the codename of “Felicja”, as part of “Żegota” Council to Aid Jews, which cared for 20% of all Jews in hiding in Warsaw ➔

Maria Hochberg (Miriam Peleg). Kraków, after 1939. Photo: Archive of Avery Peleg

Maria Hochberg (Miriam Peleg): liaison in Kraków

From 1943, as a representative of Jewish organisations, she was a liaison officer for the Kraków branch of the “Żegota”. She helped Jews by providing them with false identity papers and with financial allowance ➔

Adolf Berman: Secretary of „Żegota”

From 1942, he was a member of the presidium of the National Jewish Committee. From January 1943 to July 1944, on behalf of the Zionists, he served as secretary of the presidium of the “Żegota” Council to Aid Jews ➔

Basia Temkin-Bermanowa: “This time I will write alone”

She escaped from the Warsaw ghetto in September 1942 ➔