Poles Who Saved Jews During the Holocaust Honoured by the Polish President

Mateusz Szczepaniak, 11th October 2017
On 11th October 2017, a ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw during which the highest state honours were bestowed upon seventeen Poles who saved Jews during the Holocaust, among them being Righteous Among the Nations. During the event, President Andrzej Duda announced that March 17th would be an annual day of national remembrance of Poles who saved Jews.

Those who participated in the event included the President of Poland and his wife, representatives of the Cabinet, the Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, the President of the Institute of National Remembrance Dr Mateusz Szpytma, the Director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Dr. Piotr Cywiński, the Director of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews Prof. Dariusz Stola and many Righteous Among the Nations. The event took place to coincide with the 75th anniversay of the formation of the Council to Aid Jews "Żegota". Read more.

"Those active within it had very differing views. They belonged to vastly differing groupings and their worldview would have been different", said President Andrzej Duda. "But they all understood one thing – that they could not be indifferent when a section of our community, when a section of Polish citizenry, who were their neighbours, were being murdered, destroyed and being subjected to total extermination. It was no less heroic, perhaps even greater, than standing up armed. Above all it was at the risk of their own lives".

The head of the Department of Veteran Affairs Jan Józef Kasprzyk said, "Today, we are building a bond of memory and gratitude – memory of those who paid the highest price like the Ulm Family mentioned by the President. We are also building a bond of gratitude, not only to9 those who perished, but also to those who are now amongst us".

The following were honoured by a decision of the Polish President for their "heroic conduct and extraordinary courage in saving the lives of Jews during World War II, for outstanding service in the defence of dignity, humanity and human rights":

Commander's Cross, the Order of Polish Revival:

Zofia Barutowicz-Worwa, Zofia Bublik, Alicja Drzał, Janina Kisiel Dmerecka, Zofia Krzyżanowska, Lucjanna Kuźnicka, Marianna Kwiatkowska, Stanisław Leszczyński, Wiktor Rogoziński, Zofia Sienieńska, Helena Szarek, Kazimiera Trębacz, as well as posthumously Tadeusz Karczmarczyk, Wincentyna and Stanisław Wolscy;

The Cross of the Order of Polish Revival:

Zofia Berej, Stanisława Borończyk, Józef Jarosz, Wiktoria Juraszek, Stanisława Kac, Anna Kopeć, Jarosław Kopiczak, Dorota Kuc, Tadeusz Kurka, Zofia Leszczeńska, Anna Lewandowska, Bożena Lutczyn, Henryk Małkiewicz, Bolesława Ostrowska, Stefania Pisarek, Stefania Rezner, Rajmunda Rozbicka, Stanisława Roztropowicz-Szkubel, Waleria Kwarcewicz, Kazimierz Szczęsny, Bogdan Szymański, Anna Szymczyk, Maria Śnitko, Hanna Taborska, Irena Walulewicz, Stanisław Węgłowski, Remigiusz Węgrzynowicz, Zdzisław Zawada as well as posthumously Stanisław Goleń.

Others to speak at the event included historian Dr. hab. Grzegorz Berendt, Righetous Among the Nations Tadeusz Stankiewicz as well as Prof. Szewach Weiss, Holocaust Survivor, former Speaker of the Knesset and former Israeli Ambassador to Poland.

The event at the Presidential Palace was part of a Poland-wide reunion of the Polish Association of the Righteous, organised by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The first reunion was held on 16th October 2016 at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, marking the Association's 30th anniversary. 

"You are a light showing the way. You are a moral compass"

Read about the 30th Anniversary Gala of the Polish Association of Righteous Among the Nations