On November 28 at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Deputy Chief of Mission Eric Green and Cultural Attaché Dan Hastings attended a ceremony that posthumously awarded “The Righteous Among The Nations” medals to Poles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. The award ceremony was jointly organized by the POLIN Museum and the Embassy of Israel and sponsored by Israel’s Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center. After welcoming remarks from POLIN’s director Dariusz Stola, the Ambassador of Israel to Poland Anna Azaria presented medals to descendants or relatives of the Polish Righteous who heroically risked their lives and that of their families to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust, many of whom were strangers. During the moving medals ceremony, descendants or relatives of the Jewish Holocaust survivors – who came from all over the world – joined the relatives of the Polish Righteous on stage and gave touching remarks recognizing and praising the heroism of the Polish Righteous. Among the families of the survivors in attendance, three families from the United States attended the medals ceremony to honor the Polish Righteous who saved their ancestors or relatives.
“The Righteous Among the Nations” are individuals who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II as they faced extermination by Germany’s Nazi regime. The famous verse from the Talmud, “Whoever saves one life saves the entire world,” is inscribed on the medals which are awarded by Yad Vashem to the Righteous from all over the world. Embassies of the State of Israel hold these ceremonies infrequently, as most of the Righteous have either passed away or have already been recognized since the inception of the award in 1963. The greatest number of recipients of “The Righteous Among the Nations” award are Polish citizens who saved Jews from extermination during the Holocaust. Out of a total number of 26,973 awards conferred worldwide, 6,863 Poles have been honored with the award.
Courtesy of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, one can read about a story of Polish Righteous – awarded at the November 28 ceremony – who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust and whose descendants now live in the United States. Boleslaw Paciorek and his wife were instrumental in protecting Frederick Weinstein: