Saturday, June 29, 2013

Paulina, the righteous Gentile...

Right after we ate lunch on Shabbat (amazing cholent...) we had the incredible privilege of listening to Paulina's story...
Paulina was 16 when the war broke out and she lived in a farming village near the Ukraine.  She said that in her district, helping a Jew in any way was punishable by death and during those first few weeks after the Germans came to her village, she had witnessed a local Polish woman giving some food to a young Jewish girl - they were shot right in front of her eyes.  But that didn't stop Paulina and her parents and when a young girl showed up at their door asking for food, they not only gave her some hot soup but told her to come every day and that there would be soup for her.  She came the next day with four more Jews.  And this was the beginning of how Paulina and her parents and a neighboring farmer managed to save 5 Jews by hiding them in a bunker, feeding them, providing not only medication it vitamins as well.  
They also managed to create fake documents for a single mother, Rosia, but arranged for a friend of theirs, Kasha,  to take her baby daughter to raise until the war was over.  She told her neighbors that she had no money to keep her baby with her after she was born and had left the baby in the care of a relative until then, but niw had brought the baby back and everyone believed her.  Paulina went on to say that the Germans would often block off two or three streets and gather everyone inside and send them - these were local Poles and NOT Jews - to work for the war effort.  This young girl, Rosia, was on one of these raids and worked on a farm for the war effort - but as a Pole and not as a Jew - until after the war was over.  The five people that Paulina and her family saved survived the war and she is still in contact with the young boy that she saved.  He is now a grandfather and he and Paulina still correspond with one another.  She received a medal of honor from Yad Vashem and was recognized as a Righteous Gentile along with her parents, Kasha and the farmer neighbor.
When she finished talking, she stood up and gave a Bracha to the group in Polish - she gave her entire talk in Polish and there was a translater with her - and said that it made her heart so happy to know that the young Jews of today were remembering their grandparents and great- grandparents and were continuing in the traditions that Hitler tried to wipe out.  She wished everyone only the best life and the best future and said that she hopes nothing like this will ever happen again in the world.  She got a standing ovation and then proceeded to hug everyone who came forward to thank her.... It was an amazing thing to see.

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