Polish man who rescued Jews during the Holocaust dies at 102
Jzef Walaszczyk, a member of the Polish resistance who rescued dozens of Jews during the Nazi German occupation of Poland during World War II, has died aged 102.Walaszczyk died on Monday, according to the Institute of National Remembrance, a Polish state historical body.Walaszczyk fell in love during the war with a Jewish woman, Irena Front, only learning that she was Jewish when German Gestapo forces searched a hotel where he was staying with her.He helped her hide behind a wardrobe, and later arranged for her to get false documents and married her.
“If something was to be done, it had to be done for them all. I had to arrange for a kilogram of gold by 5:00 pm – and it was already noon. Only then would the Germans forget about the incident and release the Jews,'' Walaszczyk recalled in an interview, according to the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
Walaszczyk managed to collect and pay the required ransom, thereby saving the lives of 21 people.
He also employed 30 Jews in a potato flour factory that he had been tasked with managing due to his knowledge of the German language. Most of those he employed survived the war, according to the Polish state historical body and the museum.
Thanks to Front's efforts, Walaszczyk was honored in 2002 as a “Righteous Among the Nations” by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial and museum. The honor recognizes gentiles — mostly Christians — who saved Jews across German-occupied Europe during World War II.
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