North London family discover stunning Shoah secret of their Ukrainian guests

The grandfather of Anna Lykholit saved Jews during the Second World War. Shelley Baskind's grandfather made the medal he was awarded as a Righteous Among the Nations


When Stanmore couple Shelley and Richard Baskind and their three children decided to host a family fleeing war-torn Ukraine, they felt that Anna Lykholit and her two boys were a good match. And particularly so when they discovered that Mrs Lykholit’s grandfather had helped Ukrainian Jews during the Second World War and was subsequently honoured by Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations.

“It felt so right to help a family in need who, in the past, were involved with helping Jews when they were most in need,” Mrs Baskind said.

But there was a further revelation when Mrs Lykholit showed her the medal awarded to her grandfather, which she has kept.

“I thought the design looked familiar,” Mrs Baskind told the JC. “Then it occurred to me that my own grandfather, Moshe Hecht, produced these very medals in his workshop in Tel Aviv in the 1970s and 1980s.

“As a young girl, I would visit him at work so I recognised the design. It is such a special coincidence and it feels like a closure of an incredible circle.

“We feel very fortunate to be able to give back to Anna and her family. We all get on and have our meals together.”

Mrs Lykholit — whose husband remains in Ukraine ­— said her grandfather, Nikolai Dykii, had often spoken to her about the Nazi era. “His stories were history for me; the certainty that we cannot have such a thing.”

Her Vinnytsia-based family’s “wonderful life in Ukraine turned into hell” following the Russian invasion. “After a rocket exploded near my house, I decided that I needed to take the children to a safe place. In a Facebook group, I wrote a message that I need help. And I felt a metaphor. My grandfather saved Jewish families during the Second World War and now I was asking for help.

“Shelley and her family have done incredible things for us. They helped us move from Ukraine to Poland; found a flat in Poland for me and my sons for three weeks and bought tickets to England.

“Since April, she has shared her house with us, takes care of us and helps in all matters.

“I will be forever grateful for this support. The Baskind family are the best and kindest on Earth.”

She added: “The deeds of our relatives can come back after several generations. I am very grateful to my grandfather that he helped Jews and now people have helped us.”

The Jewish community has welcomed the Lykholit family, with sons Mark and Alex respectively attending the Sinai Primary and JFS. With the help of a Mill Hill Synagogue congregant, Mrs Lykholit found a job with a marketing company in London.

“Although it has been hard work to help them settle here, it has been rewarding,” Mrs Baskind reflected.

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