ON February 2 another 19 Slovaks were recognised for helping Jews survive during the Holocaust by being awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title, given each year by the Israeli government and the Yad Vashem museum to people of non-Jewish origin.
January 27, the date in 1945 when the Auschwitz concentration-extermination camp was liberated from the Nazis, was designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations. Each year on this day, the State of Israel and Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem award the Righteous Among the Nations title to those who risked their lives, freedom and safety in order to rescue Jews from the threat of death or deportation without expecting monetary compensation or other reward.
The title has been awarded to over 22,000 people all over the world and there are now over 500 Slovak recipients after Israel's ambassador to Slovakia, Alexander Ben-Zvi, and Israeli minister and general Yossi Peled, presented another 19 Slovaks with the award at a ceremony on February 2 in Bratislava that was also attended by President Ivan Gašparovič and Prime Minister Iveta Radičová.
The Slovaks awarded the title, some of them posthumously, in 2011 were: the Čunderlík family, Alžbeta Halászová, the Hubina family, Anna Knežová-Schonbrunová, the Medvecký family, Michal Rázus, the Roček family, the Slobodník family, the Kúra family and the Kochláň family.
“These people are the light in the dark history of the Holocaust in Slovakia,” Ambassador Ben- Zvi said.
The stories of those honoured with the Righteous Among the Nations award and the Jews they helped to save include stories that unfolded sometimes by coincidence which led to ordinary people displaying often heroic courage and resourcefulness – such as the story of the Čunderlík family from the village of Horný Jelenec, who met a Jewish woman, Adela Singerová, in the forest holding a baby girl in her arms. The family promised Singerová to take care of the baby and they did so until the end of the war.
7. Feb 2011 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani