For saving the lives of the Jews during World War II, Israel has awarded the state honour of the Righteous Among the Nations to 15 Slovaks this year.
"Each of the awardees showed huge courage despite a big danger," said Israeli Ambassador to Slovakia Zvi Aviner Vapni, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
The award is important not only to commemorate people but also to protect the values of freedom, democracy, decency, humanity, and tolerance, said President Andrej Kiska, as reported by TASR.
More than 27,000 people around the world have received the honour so far, 580 of whom were Slovaks.
Who received the awards?
One of the heroes, as the ambassador called them, is Ondrej Čanecký. He saved Walter Rosenberg and Alfréd Wetzler, who both escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944. It was these men who open the world's eyes to the Nazi murdering machine.
Other people receiving the honour are: Cecília Scheibenreifová, Rudolf Scheibenreif, Imrich Počuch, Mária Počuchová, Štefánia Pellerová, Anna Chladná, Ignác Chladný, Karolína Bullová, František Bulla, Peter Brezovský, Anna Brezovská, Ondrej Rapčan, Elena Rapčanova and Zlatica Vojtková.
The names of the Slovaks will be carved in the Wall of Honour in Jerusalem.
Read their stories:
- Ondrej Čanecký from Skalité took Walter Rosenberg and Alfred Wetzler, who escaped from the concentration camp at Auschwitz, to his home where they told him their story.
- Imrich Počuch and his wife Mária Počuchová were looking after six people in hiding: Oskar Neuman-Horanský, his wife Mária Neumanová-Horanská, their nephew and adopted son Egon Kugler-Horanský and Dezider Brichta, Dezider's wife Melánia Brichtová and their son Arpád.
- Zlatica Vojtková baked bread for Jewish families hiding near Utekáč.
- Anna Chladná and her husband Ignác Chladný looked after Erika Kohnová who went ill when hiding, and she later stayed with them for about a month until the end of the war.
- Karolína Bullová and her husband František Bulla were hiding the Grosz and the Grünberger families. The German soldiers later found and shot them, and burned Karolína alive.
- Cecília Scheibenreifová with her son Rudolf Scheibenreif helped Eva Felsenburgová. When bringing her to Nitra, Rudolf used a wheel-barrow, in which Eva was hiding.
- Ondrej Rapčan and his wife Elena Rapčanová rescued the Lipschütz family even though they were poor.
- Štefánia Pellerová rescued sisters Viera Rosenthalová and Denisa Rosenthalová who were hidden in a tiny room of the attic.
- Peter Brezovský and Anna Brezovská were hiding the a Jewish family in their basement.