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Johann Karl Nürnberger Posthumously Honored as Righteous Among the Nations from Germany

August 21, 2014

Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger
Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger
Dr. Ehud Loeb and Dr. Gila Fatran, members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous presenting Peter Nürnberger with the medal and certificate in honor of his father Johann Karl Nürnberger at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014 Dr. Ehud Loeb and Dr. Gila Fatran, members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous presenting Peter Nürnberger with the medal and certificate in honor of his father Johann Karl Nürnberger at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014
The Nürnberger family at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014 The Nürnberger family at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014
The family of Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger’s wife Paula née Grossberg at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014 The family of Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger’s wife Paula née Grossberg at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014
Peter Nürnberger's biological family at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014 Peter Nürnberger's biological family at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014
Peter Nürnberger shows his grandson the inscription in honor of his father Righteous Among the Nations  Johann Karl Nürnberger at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014
Left: Deputy Chief of Mission at the German Embassy, Monika Ewersen
Right: The Ambassador of Slovakia, Radovan Javocik
Peter Nürnberger shows his grandson the inscription in honor of his father Righteous Among the Nations Johann Karl Nürnberger at the award presentation ceremony, Yad Vashem, 21 August 2014
Left: Deputy Chief of Mission at the German Embassy, Monika Ewersen
Right: The Ambassador of Slovakia, Radovan Javocik

On Thursday, August 21, 2014, a ceremony posthumously honoring Johann Karl Nürnberger from Germany as Righteous Among the Nations was held at Yad Vashem.

The medal and certificate of honor were presented to Holocaust survivor Peter Nürnberger, who is also the Righteous’ adopted son, and who came from Slovakia especially for the event. The event took place in the presence of the Ambassador of Slovakia, and a representative of the German Embassy, and family and friends of the family including members of Peter Nürnberger’s biological family and of his adoptive mother Paula née Grossberg’s family. Members of the Weiss family, descendants of Holocaust survivor Shmuel Weiss, who was also rescued by Johann Karl Nürnberger, were also present at the event.

The medal and certificate were presented by Dr. Ehud Loeb and Dr. Gila Fatran, members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous.

An emotional Peter, asked his son Robert to speak on his behalf,

“The more I researched my father’s actions, the more I think about why he did it. The only conclusion I have is that he considered the war and the persecution of the Jews a big injustice and believed he was doing the right thing.

Such stories as the one of my father are important as they show that it is always possible to distinguish between good and evil.”

The Rescue Story:

Johann Karl Nürnberger was born in Germany in 1902. During the 1920's he moved to Slovakia and settled in Kežmarok, at the foot of the High Tatra mountains – an area with a large German minority. It was there that Nürnberger met Paula Grossberg, a local Jewish girl, and the young couple soon married. When the deportations of the Jews of Slovakia began, Paula Nürnberger was protected because of her marriage to a German non-Jew; but her sisters, Terese, and Margit, were sent on the first Slovakian transport to Auschwitz. Her mother was arrested and taken to the camp in Žilina, from which the deportations to Auschwitz left. Hearing about his mother-in-law's arrest, Nürnberger managed to secure her release. Afraid that she too would be taken, Paula converted to Christianity and registered as a member of the Evangelical Church.

In 1943 hundreds of Jews fled from Poland to Hungary, which was considered relatively safe at that time. Their flight route passed through Kežmarok, and the Nürnbergers’ home became a refuge for the fleeing Jews who would stay there and rest before resuming their journey. One day a group of refugees brought with them a 9-month-old baby. The Nürnbergers had the baby placed in the care of another family, until his parents would arrive. When news reached them that the baby's parents were captured and killed, Johann Karl Nürnberger took the baby, Peter, and together with Paula kept him safe until the end of the war. In 1944, during the Slovak uprising, Nürnberger built a bunker outside of Kežmarok, which became a hideout for fleeing Jews and other fugitives.

After liberation Peter's uncle found the Nürnbergers, and asked to take the child with him. The Nürnbergers did not want to part with Peter, and so suggested that the local Rabbi should decide in the matter. The Rabbi decided that the child should remain with the family who raised him. Following the Rabbi's decision, Peter was officially adopted by Johann Karl and Paula (who had returned to Judaism). Johann Karl Nürnberger passed away in 1958. Paula passed away in 1964, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Kežmarok.