Karolina Maciag (C) with her natural son Leopold (R) and Mordechaj Przeworski (L): photo - Israeli Embassy in Poland
Israel's Ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Ner, presided over the ceremony, which was held on Sunday at the Historical Museum of the City of Krakow.
“The Righteous risked their lives, and those of their families,” the ambassador reflected, referring to the penalties imposed for aiding Jews by the occupying German regime.
“These humble heroes did not tell others about what they were doing,” he said.
“Sometimes their neighbours did not know about it, and sometimes even their families.”
Among those honoured over the weekend was Cracovian Franciszka Zajac. She had helped over a dozen Jews who were trying to avoid being interned in the ghetto that the Nazis had created in Krakow, supplying the fugitives with false documents.
Her medal was collected by her grandchildren, also from Krakow.
Likewise honoured were two sisters from Krakow, Eleonora Haslinger and Wanda Oesterreicher, who had hidden a local Jewish boy named Jozef Sroka.
Wanda Hornik-Kulczynska from Bedzin in southern Poland hid Gerda Miriam Cohen (nee Gruenpeter) and her mother for three years.
Finally, Karolina Maciag was honoured for saving Jewish boy Mordechaj Przeworski, who lived alongside her natural son Leopold during the war.
Traditionally, the righteous were also remembered through the planting of an olive tree at the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Israel.
Owing to the fact that there is no space left in the garden to plant more trees, the names of the saviours are now inscribed on a memorial wall.
At present over 19000 people have been honoured for aiding Jews during World War II, over 6300 of them being Poles. (nh)