A Righteous Ceremony Held in Kraków

Mateusz Szczepaniak / English translation: Andrew Rajcher, 1st July 2019
A further eight Polish men and five Polish women were honoured with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in a ceremony held at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow, on 28th June 2019, during the 29th Festival of Jewish Culture. Participants included the heroes' descendants, who accepted the medals and certificates, as well as Holocaust survivors and their descendants. The Polish government was represented by the Chairman of the Parliamentary Polish-Israeli Group, Minister of Agriculture and Village Development, Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski.

On a winter evening in 1942, Tadeusz and Bronisława Plisiów heard a knocking at the door. They saw an older man who begged them to take in a three-year-old girl and to save her life. That man was my grandfather, Samuel Weiss, and that girl was my mother, Hanna Weiss, now Rechner. Her parents had been murdered by the Germans a few days earlier. The Plisiów family agreed to risk their own lives and care for Hanna. They didn't make any conditions and did not want any money.

– Michal Katzir-Lavi.

The ceremonies honouring the RIghteous Among the Nations have become a regular event on the program of each Festival of Jewish Culture in Kraków. During this year's event, more Poles who, during World War II extended help to Jews, were honoured. Medals and certificates were presented to the Righteous' families by the Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari, who admitted that, with her diplomatic post coming to an end, this would be her last ceremony as Ambassador to Poland.

In Praise of the “Righteous”

During the ceremony, Holocaust survivors shared their memories – Prof. Richard Haber and Hana Lechner, who survived thanks to help from Righteous to be honoured and a letter was read from Judith Regev, who was unable to come to Poland. Descendants of survivors also spoke, including Irving Salzman, who described the circumstances under which he found out about the survival of his father Jacek Salzman:

One day, on the table, I found a letter in a language I didn't know. I asked my father who wrote it. At that time, he only told me that it was a letter from a Polish farmer whom he knew. He also told me that he sometimes sent him gifts, sometimes money also, but he told me nothing more. Now I know that, like many other Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust, my father wanted to protect us, the children, from all the details, especially when we were young. It was only many years later, when I was older, that I discovered that this farmer was Mikołaj Pernat. I discovered what he had done for my father, his mother and his two sisters.

Mikołaj and Katarzyna Pernat risked their own lives in hiding my father and his family in their barn for eighteen months, thereby enabling them to survive. Otherwise, they would have been condemned to a certain death at the hands of the Germans. What can I say to thank people for such a sacrifice and for the risks that they took? My father and his family owe them their lives, as do I and my brother and my cousins, as do my children, my brother's children and the children of my cousins. The words “thank you” are so inadequate, to express the gratitude, which I and we wish to express to them. […] Today, I know that the world needs more such people.

By a decision of the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem, at a ceremony held on 28th June 2019, the title of Righteous Among the Nations was awarded posthumously to : Irena Dźwigaj (the title was awarded to her in 1991, but to date no presentation ceremony had been held), Stanisław and Tekla Ferencow, Maria Gelles, Karol Gialbas, Mikołaj and Katarzyna Pernat, Tadeusz and Bronisława Plisiow, Danuta Szuro, Jan a,d Józefa Uliasz and Władysława Wrażeń. 

The New “Righteous” and Their Stories

Below, we present the stories of these thirteen new Righteous:

  1. Irena Dźwigaj
  2. Stanisław amd Tekla Ferenc
  3. Maria Gelles and her daughter Danuta Szuro
  4. Karol Gialbas
  5. Mikołaj and Katarzyna Pernat (short article)
  6. Tadeusz and Bronisława Plisiow, as well as Jan and Józefa Uliasz (short article)
  7. Władysława Wrażeń (short article)

“My entire life is based upon the foundations of gratitude” »

Read about the RIghteous ceremony held at the Galicia Jewish Museum in 2018.