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As Freedom Comes to Eastern Europe, More Righteous Gentiles’ Surface

January 23, 1990
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The surge for democratic reform in Eastern Europe has had an unexpected repercussion in Israel.

Applications for the award of certificates to “Righteous Gentiles” have soared by 45 percent this year, the Itim news agency reported Monday. “Righteous Gentiles” are non-Jews who sheltered or otherwise helped Jews survive the Holocaust at great personal risk.

Since 1962, 8,200 certificates have been awarded honoring Righteous Gentiles. Only about 40 went to recipients in Eastern Europe, including the Soviet Union, until 1985, when the process of democratization began in Poland.

Poland, where the worst of the Holocaust occurred, came to account for 40 percent of the certificates.

According to Itim, 331 applications have been registered with the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial so far this year.

Justice Moshe Beisky of the High Court of Justice, who heads the Yad Vashem committee that grants the certificates, attributes the sudden increase to the new openness in Eastern Europe.

Former East European Jews living in the West can now visit Eastern Europe to meet with the people who once saved their lives. And East Europeans are free to come to Israel to receive their certificates.

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