Israel honors Czech rescuer


PRAGUE, Oct. 29 (JTA) – A railroad worker who risked his life to rescue a stranger from the Nazis in 1944 was honored last week at the Israeli Embassy here.

Ladislav Holub, who died in 1980 at the age of 66, took Ruzena Libicka into his home in the Czech village of Pecny after she had spent a year on the run from authorities.

Libicka had run out of places to hide after leaving her work as a nurse in a Jewish hospital in Prague. At the end of her rope, she broke down on a train journey and confessed to Holub that she was Jewish.

Holub then offered her a hiding place in his home – on the condition that she did not reveal her true identity to his wife.

Libicka stayed in the Holubs’ home as a maid. As far as his neighbors were concerned, she was a relative of Holub’s who had left Prague fearing Allied bombing raids.

On one occasion, Holub fooled officials who came to his house to check identities.

He convinced them that Libicka was his wife, who was at the time out working in the fields.

“Holub did something beautiful,” the Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic, Erelly Hadar, said at Wednesday’s ceremony, when Holub was honored as a Righteous Gentile by the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.

Holub’s daughter, Ilona, was at the embassy to accept the honor. “It was a truly humanitarian gesture because he was in terrible danger,” Hadar said.

Yad Vashem has honored more than 50 Czechs in the 11 years since the fall of communism.

According to Ilona, her father’s actions in helping Libicka were very much in character.

“My father was a very spontaneous man. He often didn’t think before he acted,” she said.

After the war, Libicka was reunited with her husband and two small children, who had fled to England in 1939. She died several years ago.

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