77 years after Auschwitz, the Jews praise those who saved them

Durach (AP), Germany — Andrzej Sitkowski, at the age of 15, said his mother was asked by a neighbor to hide a Jewish girl from her home Nazis.

“It was a short conversation, and yes, we decided to accept Hadassah, and she was brought to our house in 1943,” says Sitkowski. Helena and her sister Magda on the outskirts of Warsaw, the capital of Poland under German occupation.

“Of course we were afraid, but anyway our daily cooking of the year was afraid,” Sitkowski said in the Bavarian village of Durach, where he lived with his German wife 10 years ago. I told the Associated Press at home.

Approximately 80 years after Hadassah Kossack was rescued, a 93-year-old Polish man moved to the United States via Israel after the war and became a professor of history in New York. We are in contact with each other.

For her efforts to save Kosak’s life, her sister Marion and her mother Bronislawa later came to stay with Sitkowski and were given the highest honor of Israel in 1995. They were named “Righteous Among the Nations”. — The title given by Yad Vashem, the official Holocaust Memorial Organization of Israel, to non-Jews who took great risks to save Jews during the Holocaust.

This year, the world is commemorating the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945, with the cooperation of the Jewish Material Claims against Yadvashem and Germany as “Rescuers of Justice”. Emphasized the story. “Like Sitkowski, who endangered all their lives to prevent the Jews from being killed by the Nazis and their minions.

As part of a social media campaign called #Don’tBeABystander, Claims Conference and Yad Vashem have released several video And start Website About those who saved Jews during the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were killed across Europe.

“One of the amazing things about the rescue team is that they rescued all the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, the entire family tree, not just the specific hidden person,” said Greg, executive vice president. Schneider says. Claims meeting.

“In Jewish tradition, it is said that saving one person saves the whole world,” Schneider told AP.

Over the last 60 years, Yad Vashem has recognized approximately 28,000 individuals from approximately 50 countries as “saviors of justice.” The organization receives hundreds of applications each year, primarily to honor others after death. Of all the rescuers alive today, most helped their parents as children and teenagers.

Dani Dayan, Chairman of Yad Vashem, said: “As anti-Semitism is growing again on all five continents, we need to re-emphasize the moral heights of these people and their actions.”

In Poland, home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before the Holocaust, Nazi occupiers punished those who helped Jews by executing not only helpers but the entire family.

Still, when he asked Sitkowski why he and his mother decided to help the Jews despite the enormous personal risks, he shrugged and said it was simply their duty as humans. say.

“When my mother told me about the request from my neighbor, there wasn’t a long deliberation. The approval was somehow obvious,” Sitkowski remembers, pushing in a red scarf.

“It was Mensh’s impulsive decision,” he adds, using the German human language to refer to a particularly good person in Yiddish.

Sitting in his living room overlooking the snow-covered hills of the Alps, he smiles as he thinks of Hadassah.

“She was a beautiful girl, very smart, with black hair and black eyes. I loved her very much.”

Even today, there is a strong bond between them. I used to meet each other and now I talk on the phone and exchange letters.

In their conversations, their memories are often when Sitkowski shared poor food rations with Hadassah, when Andrey taught 5-year-old Hadassah how to read and write, and when they told their neighbors and acquaintances Hadassah. A forged story about a Christian and Polish girl whose mother was taken to Germany as a forced laborer, not a Jew.

In reality, Hadassah’s mother was hiding as a maid with another family, and her sister Marion was hiding in a Catholic monastery. But when those hiding places were no longer safe, the two joined Hadassah at Sitkowskis.

However, in September 1944, the Nazis first burned down Sitkowski’s house and many other houses on the street, and then expelled all those who lived there. Therefore, they need to escape again, and eventually Sitkowski and Kosax split up until the Soviet troops liberated Poland in January 1945, and were the last few of the wars in various parts of Poland? I had to survive the moon.

When Hadasar Kossak first moved to Israel and later to the United States, her mother and sister went to England, where Marion married Ralph Millibrand, two sons Ed and David, and two of the British Labor Party. A famous politician was born. ..

The decision by Andrzej and his mother to provide shelter was “a true act of mankind,” Hadassah Kosak told AP. “Thanks to their courage, and at great risk to themselves, we have overcome the fear of the Nazis.”