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Poles saved tens of thousands of Jews


“During the Second World War, Poles saved some tens of thousands of Jews, by the estimate of researchers”, said Dr Mateusz Szpytma, vice-president of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN).

Dr Szpytma recalled that around a thousand Poles were killed for helping Jews during the Second World War. The death penalty on the part of the Germans threatened not only those providing any support to their Jewish fellow citizens, but also the relatives or neighbours of the helper. Most often, however, the occupier used other repressions.

Many Poles were sent to concentration camps or punished with imprisonment,” added the IPN vice-president. 

“It can be said that about several dozen thousand Jews were saved by Poles,” he said and pointed out that according to various historians’ estimates, 100 to even 300 thousand Poles were involved in helping Jews.

“We know that Yad Vashem has so far awarded over 7,000 Poles with the Righteous Among the Nations medal”, the historian reminded.

In an interview, the Vice-President of the Institute of National Remembrance stressed the importance of the day dedicated to Poles saving Jews for local communities.

„However, there was often such an accusation in local communities against those families who saved Jews that they endangered others, not only themselves, because there were cases in which neighbours were also murdered. The Polish state shows that this was an act that served Polish independence, or at least that of its citizens, and raises it to a completely different level”, believes Dr Mateusz Szpytma.

Before the Second World War, the population of Poland was around 25 million. More than 3 million of these citizens declared a Mosaic religion. The Nazi occupation eliminated Polish Jews, who were murdered by the German Nazis regardless of gender, age, education, or social background.

Of the 25 million Poles, more than two million perished, while of 3 million of the Jewish community, between 100,000 and 300,000 survived. 

Adrian Andrzejewski

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