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Polish women named Righteous Among the Nations

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 24.08.2018 13:20
Poland's Janina Garbień has been awarded Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations medal for helping to save a Jewish child during the Holocaust.
Janina Garbień. Photo:  PAP/Jacek TurczykJanina Garbień. Photo: PAP/Jacek Turczyk

Her mother, Kazimiera Jasik, and sisters Maria Miłaszewicz and Helena Krawczyk-Demczuk were given the award posthumously.

Israel's ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, said it was rare to give the award to a living recipient, and even rarer that the person they saved was also still alive.

Azari said that Garbień and her family members were heroes, adding that risking one's own life in order to save another was "exceptional".

The four Polish women saved Larissa Cain who was 7 and went by the name Larissa Sztorchan when the Second World War started in 1939. She escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and found shelter in a number of homes, including the Jasik household.

The family introduced Larissa to visitors as a cousin who had come from nearby Siedlce.

Janina Garbień remembers that the family sewed the girl a dress from a folding screen which they dismantled for its fabric.

One of Garbień's sisters also arranged a fake birth certificate with a Polish name for the Jewish girl.

"Unfortunately, Larissa could not stay with us long because the ghetto wall went through our yard" and it was heavily patrolled, Garbień said.

"We all risked death, of course, for sheltering her, but it was important to us to save the life of a child," she added.

Cain said Helena had treated her like a younger sister.

She said that, despite not staying with the Jasik family for long, she did not receive the same amount of affection anywhere else.

The title "Righteous among the Nations," the highest Israeli civilian distinction, has been awarded since 1963 by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem to those who helped Jews during World War II.

Some 3.3 million Jews lived in Poland’s territory at the outbreak of World War II. Poles constitute the largest national group among the Righteous Among the Nations. (vb)

Source: IAR

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