Saving one life saves the entire world. A Talmud quote opens the celebration of sympathy shown towards Jewish people during times of hardship in World War II.
Israel and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem award non-Jews with the Righteous Among the Nations title, carrying the highest honour.
Awardees risked their own safety and lives for others by hiding them or helping them escape from the totalitarian regime, without expecting compensation or rewards as counter service. This year, 12 brave Slovaks receive the award Righteous Among the Nations: Antónia Nikodemová, Anton and Oľga Baláž, Oliver Rácz, Ján and Anna Makóny, Pavel Petroch, Ján and Mária Bukov, Jozef Fekiač, and Ján and Mária Spevák. Their names will be added to the Wall of Honour in the Yad Vashem garden.
"We have immense respect for their bravery and sense for humanity, and when reading these six stories, we ask ourselves how we would have acted under the same circumstances," Israeli Ambassador Eitan Levon said during the ceremony.
The stories of non-Jews standing by Jewish people during the war around the International Holocaust Memorial Day are traditionally remembered in January. This year, after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, the ceremony took place on September 5 instead.
Here are their full stories:
- Antónia Nikodemová: 60-kilometer-long march to save a life
- Oľga Balážová and Anton Baláž: From one rescuer to another
- Oliver Rácz: Saving future partisans and future love
- Ján Makóny and Anna Makónyová: Shelter for brothers
- Pavel Petroch, Jozef Fekiač, Ján Bukov and Mária Bukovová: Cakes for children and keeping family together
- Mária Speváková and Ján Spevák: Humanity of one woman saved a family of eight