Acts of Courage

Helena Ruczkan with her 'Righteous Among the Nations' award, surrounded by her ‘daughter’ Amelia Miller, who she saved during the war, and ‘grand-daughter’ Pauline. Helena Ruczkan with her 'Righteous Among the Nations' award, surrounded by her ‘daughter’ Amelia Miller, who she saved during the war, and ‘grand-daughter’ Pauline. Source: Courtesy of Amelia Miller.

Individual acts of courage and humanity enabled beacons of hope to flicker throughout this period of darkness, and ultimately stand as testament to man’s ability to confront and withstand extreme evil. During the Holocaust brave individuals and groups tried to help Jews. Such acts took great courage because the punishments were severe and, in some cases, the penalty was death.

 

Genia Pajak’s 'Righteous Among the Nations' document Israel, 1983

Item from the display

Genia Pajak’s “Righteous Among the Nations” document
Israel, 1983

Genia Pajak was a Polish woman with three children who earned a living during the war smuggling food into the Bedzin Ghetto in Poland. This is how JHC Guide, Kitia Altman, came to know her. In July 1943, shortly before the Bedzin Ghetto was liquidated, Genia offered to hide Kitia. Kitia asked if she would consider hiding her young cousin, Tamara (Marusia) Cyngler, instead. Even though she did not know the child, Genia agreed. Despite the danger Genia organised for Tamara to be hidden in different locations in and around Bedzin for the rest of the war.

In 1985 Kitia acknowledged Genia’s selfless actions by nominating her to be recognised by Yad Vashem as a ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

Individual acts of courage and humanity enabled lights of hope to flicker throughout this period of darkness, and ultimately stand as testament to man’s ability to confront and withstand extreme evil. During the Holocaust brave individuals and groups tried to help Jews. Such acts took great courage because the punishments were severe and, in some cases, the penalty was death.