Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous Among the Nations (Hebrew: חסידי אומות העולם, khassidey umot ha-olam "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.
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 (the term "Holocaust" may have come via Jewish-American journalist reporting on the Eichmann trial). Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel is charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous among the Nations". The commission is guided in its work by certain criteria and 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:
- Only a Jewish party can put a nomination forward;
- Helping a family member or Jew convert to Christianity is not a criterion for recognition;
- Assistance has to be repeated and/or substantial; and
- Assistance has to be given without any financial gain expected in return (although covering normal expenses such as rent or food is acceptable).
The award has been given without regard to the social rank of the helper. For example, it has been given to Queen Helen of Romania or Elisabeth of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium and to the most humble people without distinction.
A person who is recognized as "Righteous" for having taken risks to help Jews during the Holocaust is awarded a medal in his/her 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.
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. In total, 24,811 (as of 1 January 2013[update]) men and women from 45 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.
Number of awarded by country
Award were received by 25,685 individuals (1 January 2015):
- Poland: 6,532
- Netherlands: 5,413
- France: 3,853
- Ukraine: 2,515
- Belgium: 1,690
- Lithuania: 877
- Hungary: 823
- Italy: 634
- Belarus: 608
- Germany: 569
- Slovakia: 546
- Greece: 321
- Russia: 197
- Serbia: 135
- Latvia: 134
- Czech Republic: 115
- Croatia: 111
- Austria: 104
- Moldova: 79
- Albania: 73
- Romania: 60
- Norway: 59
- Switzerland: 45
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: 42
- Armenia: 24
- Denmark: 22
- United Kingdom: 21
- Bulgaria: 20
- Macedonia: 10
- Sweden: 10
- Slovenia: 7
- Spain: 7
- United States: 4
- Estonia: 3
- Brazil: 2
- Portugal: 2
- China: 2
- Chile: 1
- Montenegro: 1
- Ecuador: 1
- Egypt: 1
- Georgia: 1
- Japan: 1
- Ireland: 1
- Cuba: 1
- Luxembourg: 1
- El Salvador: 1
- Turkey: 1
- Vietnam: 1
The "Righteous" are honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) 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; she was a Vilnius University librarian who helped and rescued Jewish people in the Vilna Ghetto.
Righteous in Israel
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 re-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 now integrated into Israeli society.
- Novick, Peter (2007). The Holocaust in American life (1. Mariner Books ed., [Nachdr.]. ed.). Boston [u.a.]: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0618082322.
- Gunnar S. Paulsson, “The Rescue of Jews by Non-Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland”, The Journal of Holocaust Education, volume 7, nos. 1 & 2 (summer/autumn 1998): pp. 19–44. Reprinted in “Collective Rescue Efforts of the Poles”, p. 256
- "About the Righteous: Statistics". The Righteous Among The Nations. Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. 2013-01-01. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
- "First Arab Nominated for Holocaust Honor". Associated Press. 30 January 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
- "Odoardo Focherini: Late journalist, hero and Blessed of the Catholic Church". Rome Reports. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
- "Lithuania’s first street honoring Holocaust Righteous unveiled in Vilnius | Jewish Telegraphic Agency". Jta.org. September 25, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
- "Story in ''The Forward'' re Righteous Gentiles who settled in Israel". Forward.com. Retrieved 2013-09-06.
- The Heart Has Reasons: Holocaust Rescuers and Their Stories of Courage, Mark Klempner, ISBN 0-8298-1699-2, The Pilgrim Press.
- Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: Genocide and Moral Obligation, David P. Gushee, ISBN 1-55778-821-9, Paragon House Publishers.
- The Lexicon of the Righteous Among the Nations, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem. (volumes: Poland, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Europe I, Europe II).
- To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue, Land-Weber, Ellen, ISBN 0-252-02515-6, University of Illinois Press.
- The Seven Laws of Noah, Lichtenstein, Aaron, New York: The Rabbi Jacob Joseph School Press, 1981, ASIN B00071QH6S.
- The Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism, Novak, David, ISBN 0-88946-975-X, New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983.
- The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust, Paldiel, Mordecai, ISBN 0-88125-376-6, KTAV Publishing House, Inc.
- Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands, Robert Satloff, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, (PublicAffairs, 2006) ISBN 1-58648-399-4.
- When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland, Tec, Nechama, ISBN 0-19-505194-7, Oxford University Press.
- Zegota: The Council to Aid Jews in Occupied Poland 1942-1945, Tomaszewski, Irene & Werbowski, Tecia, ISBN 1-896881-15-7, Price-Patterson.
- Tolerance in Judaism: The Medieval and Modern Sources, Zuesse, Evan M., In: The Encyclopaedia of Judaism, edited by Jacob Neusner, A. Avery-Peck, and W.S. Green, Second Edition, ISBN 90-04-14787-X, Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2005, Vol. IV: 2688-2713.
- When Courage Was Stronger Than Fear: Remarkable Stories of Christians Who Saved Jews from the Holocaust by Peter Hellman. 2nd edition, ISBN 1-56924-663-7, Marlowe & Companym, 1999.
- Rescue and Flight: American Relief Workers Who Defied the Nazis, Subak, Susan Elisabeth, University of Nebraska Press, 342 pp., 2010.
- Ugo G. Pacifici Noja e Silvia Pacifici Noja, Il cacciatore di giusti: storie di non ebrei che salvarono i figli di Israele dalla Shoah, Cantalupa Torinese, Effatà, 2010, (in Italian), ISBN 978-88-7402-568-8.
- Paul Greveillac, Les fronts clandestins : quinze histoires de Justes (in French), Nicolas Eybalin publishing, 2014 (ISBN 978-2-36665-000-6).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Righteous Among the Nations.|
- The Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem
- "Their Fate Will Be My Fate Too…" Teachers Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust An online exhibition at Yad Vashem
- Spots of Light: Women in the Holocaust An online exhibition at Yad Vashem
- Story of Dutch Righteous Gentile Rut Matthijsen
- Polish Righteous at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
- Heroes and Heroines of the Holocaust at the Holocaust Survivors' Network.
- Holocaust Rescuers Bibliography
- Saving Jews: Polish Righteous
- Photo gallery on righteous gentiles during the Holocaust at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
- Rescuers at the Jewish Virtual Library.
- Holocaust Memorial Budapest, testimony from the family Jakobovics in 1947
- Articles about Righteous Among the Nations
- The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous
- Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State at PBS
- Site commemorating Poles who gave their lives to save Jews
- Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide Committee
- Essay: "Paying the ultimate price" by Irena Steinfeldt, The Jerusalem Post, 14 April 2009
- Database about french righteous and anonymous who help them, and resistances
- Holocaust Heroes Budapest Hungary Righteous Among The Nations