Israel has honored three non-Jews as “Righteous Among the Nations,” individuals who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust.
Eugene de Thassy, originally from Hungary, and Genowefa and Franciszek Swiatek of Poland this week received a certificate of honor and a medal.
The awards were presented here by Ambassador Colette Avital, consul general of Israel in New York.
In 1944, de Thassy rescued the Kaufmann family by hiding them in a convent and enrolling their son Ivan in school as his own son. He also attempted to save a Jewish doctor and his wife, who eventually died in the Holocaust. De Thassy now works at Voice of America as a journalist.
The Swiateks adopted Lucia Weitzman, pretending that she was a non-Jew from the Soviet Union. When Weitzman’s parents did not return from the war — she believes they perished at Auschwitz — the couple raised her as their own. After the war, the Swiateks continually encouraged Weitzman to be Jewish, and when she turned 19 or 20, they persuaded her to move to the United States because there were no Jews to marry in Poland. Weitzman accepted the award on behalf of the Swiateks.
Survivors nominate “Righteous Among the Nations” and give testimony about their rescue during the war. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem then approves the nominees.
In addition to the certificate and medal, which bears the Talmudic expression, “Whoever saves one life, is as though he had saved the entire world,” the names of de Thassy and the Swiateks will be engraved on the honor wall in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem.