Righteous honour for 13 Poles who helped Jews

By Nissan Tzur, March 31, 2011

In a ceremony held in Warsaw last week, the Israeli ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Ner, decorated 13 Poles for aiding Jews during the Nazi occupation.

Poland holds the highest number of Righteous Among the Nations awards in the world, with over 6,200 citizens honoured.

Among those decorated was Bronislawa Ogoniewska from the city of Stanislawow, who helped hide 32 Jews from the Nazis.

Righteous Among the Nations nominees must be supported by the testimony of a Jewish survivor or other incontrovertible evidence in order to be eligible for the award.

Ceremonies have taken place at the Israeli embassy in Warsaw annually for the past 13 years.

Poland holds the highest number of Righteous awards

Malgorzata Ploszaj, 48, and her daughter Magda, 17, were also among those who received the certificate from the Israeli ambassador last week.

Malgorzata said: "I was born in Rybnik, a former German town. When I was a child, my mother pointed to a place in a local park and said: 'Here was a Jewish cemetery and synagogue, but the Germans burnt it.'

"Then I started wondering why we don't see any sign of the Jewish life we had in Poland. Since then me and Magda decided to search for Jewish cemeteries around Poland and preserve them.

"We are cleaning old Jewish cemeteries and synagogues around the whole of Poland, and even my husband decided to join us. We even found seven gravestones from the old Jewish cemetery in Rybnik. That was a great day for me."

Last updated: 11:05am, March 31 2011