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Slovak Couple Honored with Righteous Gentile Award

The Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic last week bestowed a posthumous Righteous Among the Nations Award to a couple who gave refuge to three Jews in a Slovak village during World War II.

At a ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Prague on Nov. 24., Ambassador Moshe Yegar delivered the award to Ruzena Stepnickova, the daughter of Vojtech and Anna Mjartus, who risked their lives to hide in their home three Jews who were being pursued by the Nazis.

Stepnickova, who was 8 years old at the time of her parents’ heroic action, was accompanied at the ceremony by her husband and two granddaughters.

Yegar said the action of Stepnickova’s parents had been risky for the entire family and that it was a greater act of heroism than fighting on the battlefield.

“They could not guess whether their humanitarian deed would go on for weeks only, or for months or years,” said Yegar. “They could not anticipate when the war would end or their humanism and moral strength.”

Yegar noted pointedly that in the same village where the Mjartus family succeeded in saving three lives, 18 other Jews were hunted down and executed by the Nazis.

Some 8,000 individuals have been awarded the Righteous Among the Nations medal for their efforts to rescue Jews during World War II.

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