Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew: חֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, khasidei umót ha'olám "righteous (plural) of the world's nations") is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The term originates with the concept of "righteous gentiles", a term used in rabbinic Judaism to refer to non-Jews, called ger toshav, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah.
When Yad Vashem, the Shoah Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by the Knesset, one of its tasks was to commemorate the "Righteous Among the Nations". The Righteous were defined as non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel has been charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous Among the Nations". Guided in its work by certain criteria, the commission meticulously studies all documentation including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses, evaluates the historical circumstances and the element of risk to the rescuer, and then decides if the case meets the criteria. Those criteria are:
The award has been given without regard to the social rank of the helper. It has been given to royalty such as Princess Alice of Battenberg, Queen Mother Helen of Romania and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium but also to others like the philosopher Jacques Ellul and to Amsterdam department store employee Hendrika Gerritsen.
A person who is recognized as Righteous for having taken risks to help Jews during the Holocaust is awarded a medal in their name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of having the name added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem (the last is in lieu of a tree planting, which was discontinued for lack of space). The awards are distributed to the rescuers or their next-of-kin during ceremonies in Israel, or in their countries of residence through the offices of Israel's diplomatic representatives. These ceremonies are attended by local government representatives and are given wide media coverage.
The Yad Vashem Law authorizes Yad Vashem "to confer honorary citizenship upon the Righteous Among the Nations, and if they have died, the commemorative citizenship of the State of Israel, in recognition of their actions". Anyone who has been recognized as "Righteous" is entitled to apply to Yad Vashem for the certificate. If the person is no longer alive, their next of kin is entitled to request that commemorative citizenship be conferred on the Righteous who has died.
In total, 26,973 (as of 1 January 2018) men and women from 51 countries have been recognized, amounting to more than 10,000 authenticated rescue stories. Yad Vashem's policy is to pursue the program for as long as petitions for this title are received and are supported by evidence that meets the criteria.
Recipients who choose to live in the State of Israel are entitled to a pension equal to the average national wage and free health care, as well as assistance with housing and nursing care.
At least 130 Righteous Gentiles have settled in Israel. They were welcomed by Israeli authorities, and were granted citizenship. In the mid-1980s, they became entitled to special pensions. Some of them settled in British Mandatory Palestine before Israel's establishment shortly after World War II, or in the early years of the new state of Israel, while others came later. Those who came earlier often spoke fluent Hebrew and have integrated into Israeli society.
The Righteous are honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church in the United States on 16 July. A Righteous from Italy, Edward Focherini, was beatified by the Catholic Church on 15 June 2013.
In 2015, Lithuania's first street sign honoring a Righteous Among the Nations was unveiled in Vilnius. The street is named Simaites Street, after Ona Šimaitė, a Vilnius University librarian who helped and rescued Jewish people in the Vilna Ghetto.
As of June 16, 2017, the award has been made to 26,513 people.
|Rank||Country||Number of awards|
|24||Bosnia and Herzegovina||47|
|26||Denmark, United Kingdom||22|
|29||North Macedonia, Sweden||10|
|34||Estonia, Turkey, Portugal||3|
|37||Brazil, Chile, Indonesia, Peru, Republic of China||2|
|42||Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Vietnam||1|
Albert Gustave Bedane (1893–1980) lived in Jersey during the German occupation during World War II, and provided shelter to a Jewish woman and others, preventing their capture by the Nazis.
He was born in Angers in France in 1893 and lived in Jersey from 1894. He served in the British Army 1917-1920 and was naturalised as a British subject by the Royal Court of Jersey in 1921. By profession he was a masseur/physiotherapist.
In 1966 the Soviet government presented Albert Bedane (along with other Jersey resistance activists who had helped and sheltered escaped Soviet slave-workers) with a gold watch. On 4 January 2000, Albert Bedane was recognised as Righteous Among the Nations.
A plaque erected by the Vingtaine de la Ville marks the site of his home in Roseville Street, Saint Helier, where he sheltered escapees.
In 2004 BBC South West launched an audience vote for South West Heroes. The four nominations from Jersey, which falls within the BBC's South West broadcasting region, were Gerald Durrell, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Billy Butlin and Albert Bedane.In 2010, Bedane was posthumously named a British Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government.Angelos Evert
Angelos Evert (from the German “Ebert”) (Greek: Άγγελος Έβερτ; 10 April 1894 – 30 December 1970) was a Greek police officer, most notable for serving as head of the Athens branch of the Cities Police during the Axis Occupation of Greece during World War II.Anna Borkowska (Sister Bertranda)
Mother Bertranda, O.P. (née Janina Siestrzewitowska; 1900–1988), later known as Anna Borkowska, was a Polish cloistered Dominican nun who served as the prioress of her monastery in Kolonia Wileńska near Wilno (now Pavilnys near Vilnius, Lithuania). She was a graduate of the University of Kraków who had entered the monastery after her studies. During World War II, under her leadership, the nuns of the monastery sheltered 17 young Jewish activists from Vilnius Ghetto and helped the Jewish Partisan Organization (FPO) by smuggling weapons. In recognition of this, in 1984 she was awarded the title of Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem.Corrie ten Boom
Cornelia Arnolda Johanna "Corrie" ten Boom (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker and later a writer who worked with her father Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II by hiding them in her home. They were caught and she was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, is a biography that recounts the story of her family's efforts and how ten Boom found hope while imprisoned at the concentration camp.Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations
The Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew: גַן חֲסִידִי אוּמות הָעוֹלָם) is part of the much larger Yad Vashem complex located on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. Along with some two dozen different structures within the Yad Vashem memorial – which is the second most-visited destination in the country after the Western Wall – the Garden of the Righteous is meant to honor those non-Jews who during the Holocaust risked their lives to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The entire site receives one million visitors annually. In the Garden, names of the Righteous among the Nations are engraved in alphabetical order on walls arranged according to country.Henryk Iwański
Henryk Iwański (1902-1978), nom de guerre Bystry, was a member of the Polish resistance during World War II. He is known for leading one of the most daring actions of the Armia Krajowa (Home Army) in support of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. For his assistance to the Polish Jews Iwański was bestowed the title of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem in 1964.Jan Zwartendijk
Jan Zwartendijk (29 July 1896 – 14 September 1976) was a Dutch businessman and diplomat. As director of the Philips plants in Lithuania and part-time acting consul of the Dutch government-in-exile, he supervised the writing of 2,345 visas for Curaçao to save Jews from the Holocaust during World War II. In 1997, Yad Vashem recognised him as Righteous Among the Nations.List of Austrian Righteous Among the Nations
This is a list of Austrian Righteous Among the Nations. As of 1 January 2018, 109 Austrians have been honored with this title by Yad Vashem for saving Jews during World War II.List of Croatian Righteous Among the Nations
This is the list of Croatian Righteous Among the Nations. As of 1 February 2019, 117 Croatians have been honored with this title by Yad Vashem for saving Jews during World War II.One of the Righteous, Sister Amadeja Pavlović (28 January 1895 – 26 November 1971), was the Superior of the Croatian province of the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross in Đakovo from 1943–55. She rescued Zdenka Grunbaum, then a ten-year-old girl from Osijek; Grunbaum's family was killed in Đakovo. Grunbaum later moved to America, and started the initiative to have Pavlović recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. Pavlović was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 2008; Croatian president Stjepan Mesić attended the ceremony.List of Norwegian Righteous Among the Nations
During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, its Jewish community was subject to persecution and deported to extermination camps. Although at least 764 Jews in Norway were killed, over 1,000 were rescued with the help of non-Jewish Norwegians who risked their lives to smuggle the refugees out of Norway, typically to Sweden. As of 1 January 2018, 67 of these individuals have been recognized by Yad Vashem as being Righteous Among the Nations. Yad Vashem has also recognized the Norwegian resistance movement collectively.List of Righteous Among the Nations by country
This is a partial list of some of the most prominent Righteous Among the Nations per country of origin, recognized by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. These people risked their lives or their liberty and position to help Jews during the Holocaust; some suffered death as a result. As of 1 January 2018, Yad Vashem has recognized 26,973 Righteous Among the Nations from 51 countries.Ona Šimaitė
Ona Šimaitė (6 January 1894 – 17 January 1970) was a Lithuanian librarian at Vilnius University who used her position to aid and rescue Jews in the Vilna Ghetto during World War II.Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He is the subject of the 1982 novel Schindler's Ark and its 1993 film adaptation, Schindler's List, which reflected his life as an opportunist initially motivated by profit, who came to show extraordinary initiative, tenacity, courage, and dedication to save the lives of his Jewish employees.
Schindler grew up in Svitavy, Moravia, and worked in several trades until he joined the Abwehr, the military intelligence service of Nazi Germany, in 1936. He joined the Nazi Party in 1939. Prior to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, he collected information on railways and troop movements for the German government. He was arrested for espionage by the Czechoslovak government but was released under the terms of the Munich Agreement in 1938. Schindler continued to collect information for the Nazis, working in Poland in 1939 before the invasion of Poland at the start of World War II. In 1939, Schindler acquired an enamelware factory in Kraków, Poland, which employed at the factory's peak in 1944 about 1,750 workers, of whom 1,000 were Jews. His Abwehr connections helped Schindler protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death in the Nazi concentration camps. As time went on, Schindler had to give Nazi officials ever larger bribes and gifts of luxury items obtainable only on the black market to keep his workers safe.
By July 1944, Germany was losing the war; the SS began closing down the easternmost concentration camps and deporting the remaining prisoners westward. Many were killed in Auschwitz and the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. Schindler convinced SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth, commandant of the nearby Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, to allow him to move his factory to Brněnec in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, thus sparing his workers from almost certain death in the gas chambers. Using names provided by Jewish Ghetto Police officer Marcel Goldberg, Göth's secretary Mietek Pemper compiled and typed the list of 1,200 Jews who travelled to Brünnlitz in October 1944. Schindler continued to bribe SS officials to prevent the execution of his workers until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, by which time he had spent his entire fortune on bribes and black market purchases of supplies for his workers.
Schindler moved to West Germany after the war, where he was supported by assistance payments from Jewish relief organisations. After receiving a partial reimbursement for his wartime expenses, he moved with his wife Emilie to Argentina, where they took up farming. When he went bankrupt in 1958, Schindler left his wife and returned to Germany, where he failed at several business ventures and relied on financial support from Schindlerjuden ("Schindler Jews")—the people whose lives he had saved during the war. He and his wife Emilie were named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1993. He died on 9 October 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany, and was buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honoured in this way.Polish Righteous Among the Nations
The citizens of Poland have the world's highest count of individuals who have been recognized by Yad Vashem of Jerusalem as the Polish Righteous Among the Nations, for saving Jews from extermination during the Holocaust in World War II. As of 1 January 2018, there are 6,863 Polish men and women recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, over a quarter the of 26,973 recognized by Yad Vashem in total.It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of Poles concealed and aided hundreds of thousands of their Polish-Jewish neighbors. Many of these initiatives were carried out by individuals, but there also existed organized networks of Polish resistance which were dedicated to aiding Jews – most notably, the Żegota organization.
In German-occupied Poland the task of rescuing Jews was especially difficult and dangerous compared to other European countries under German occupation. All household members were punished by death if a Jew was found concealed in their home or on their property. It is estimated that the number of Poles who were killed by the Nazis for aiding Jews was as high as tens of thousands, 704 of whom were posthumously honored with medals.Père Marie-Benoît
Père Marie-Benoît (Anglicized, Father Mary Benedict; in Italian, known as Padre Maria Benedetto; 30 March 1895 – 5 February 1990) was born Pierre Péteul. As a Capuchin Franciscan friar he helped smuggle approximately 4,000 Jews into safety from Nazi-occupied Southern France. On 1 December 1966, he was honored with the Medal of the Righteous among the Nations for his courage and self-sacrifice. His actions to save Jews during the Holocaust were the reason for his epithet Father of the Jews (French: Père des juifs).Raimondo Viale
Don Raimondo Viale (1907 – 25 September 1984) was an Italian Catholic priest, whose name is entered among the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem for his work on behalf of the Jews during the Holocaust.Wilm Hosenfeld
Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld (German pronunciation: [ˈvɪlm ˈhoːzənfɛlt]; 2 May 1895 – 13 August 1952), originally a school teacher, was a German Army officer who by the end of the Second World War had risen to the rank of Hauptmann (Captain). He helped to hide or rescue several Polish people, including Jews, in Nazi-occupied Poland, and helped Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman to survive, hidden, in the ruins of Warsaw during the last months of 1944, an act which was portrayed in the 2002 film The Pianist. He was taken prisoner by the Red Army and died in Soviet captivity in 1952.
In October 2007, Hosenfeld was posthumously honoured by the president of Poland Lech Kaczyński with a Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. In June 2009, Hosenfeld was posthumously recognized in Yad Vashem (Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust) as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Righteous Among the Nations
|Nations and groups|