JTA — An Israeli whose uncle was murdered by Polish villagers honored the memory of another local who saved her mother from the Holocaust.
At a ceremony in Lublin on Wednesday, Lea Hirsch gave relatives of Antek Teklak a certificate from Israel’s Yad Vashem museum recognizing him as a Righteous Among the Nations – Israel’s title for non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews from the genocide.
Teklak hid Hirsch’s late mother, Genia Kopf, for two years in what she described in testimonies as “a hole in the ground” in a town near Lublin.
Kopf’s brother, Josef Kopf, also survived the Holocaust by escaping the Sobibor death camp. He reunited with his sister after the war but was murdered upon returning to their native village of Turobin to reclaim property. Teklak, the rescuer, pleaded with Josef Kopf not to go, warning him he’d be killed, his sister said.
Hirsch, whose family has developed warm and close ties with the Teklaks, said she believes the story illustrates the complexity of the polarizing debate about the Holocaust in Poland. Poland has 6,863 Righteous, the highest number of any nation. But historians say many Poles murdered or gave over to the Germans thousands of Jews.
Separately, a Holocaust commemoration group in Poland has imported two London taxi cabs to chauffeur rescuers for free in Warsaw. The vehicles were were donated by three British Jewish cabbies, said Jonny Daniels, the founder of From the Depths.