Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Righteous Among the Nations Honored at Yad Vashem

Today there was a very special ceremony honoring the late Wojciech Twardzicki from Poland and his daughters Helena, and Zofia, and the late Wladyslawa, as Righteous Among the Nations. Jadwiga Zarnowiecka, Worjciech’s granddaughter, arrived from Poland for the event where she met Holocaust survivor Zahava (nee Waic) Schwartz and her extended family of children and grandchildren who were present. Jadwiga, out of respect for Zahava and her religously observant family, came to the ceremony with her head elegantly covered with a scarf. Holding hands, and exchanging loving looks, the women celebrated the courage of the Twardzicki family and the “entire world” that was created as a result of Zahava’s survival.
Their Story:
On September 8, 1939, the city of Jaslo in Western Galicia was occupied by the Nazis. Many Jews attempted to flee, but the German Army prevented their escape and returned them to their homes. The Jews of Jaslo suffered and were persecuted: they were beaten in the streets; they were sent forcibly to hard labor; their homes and stores were looted; and they were obligated to wear a white armband marked with a blue Star of David. In 1941, the Jews were sequestered in a ghetto in a small quarter of the city.

In July 1942, some months before the liquidation of the ghetto, young Zahava Schwartz escaped from the ghetto to the house of some family friends, the Twardzickis, who lived in the neighboring town of Birowka, where she was hidden together with her cousin Mina.
The Twardzicki family was kind and warm hearted. The mother of the family died of an illness shortly after the arrival of Zahava and Manya, and the father, Wojciech, together with his three daughters, Helena, Wladyslawa and Zofia, devotedly cared for the two girls. For two years, the family provided the young girls with food, shelter and all their needs, all without receiving any compensation. They protected them, hiding them in a closet, the attic or the stables during raids by the German police.

Zahava’s parents, Hinda and Pinchas Elazar Waic and her sister Esther, were murdered when the Jaslo ghetto was liquidated.

On April 10, 1994, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at Yad Vashem decided to recognize Wojciech Twardzicki and his daughters, Helena, Wladyslawa and Zofia, as a Righteous Among the Nations.

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