From Generation To Generation
"Our Jewish Family - For We Consider Them Truly Family!"
The memory of rescue – the noblest expression of sacrifice and solidarity as well as the terrible suffering it often entailed – continues to mark the families of both rescuers and rescued.
In some cases rescuers and rescued knew each other before the war, but often there was no previous connection between the Jews and the persons who saved them. More often than not the rescuers came from completely different backgrounds and had very little in common with the Jews for whom they risked their lives. Despite these differences and the stressful circumstances of helping Jews clandestinely, the ties between rescuers and the people they saved often developed into profoundly close relationships, which are fostered by the next generations of rescuer and rescued families.
There were however also other situations. Parting after liberation was often hard, especially when rescuers had to return children they had hidden and come to love, and the children were once again torn away from their familiar surroundings and turned over to strangers. Sometimes relations were severed following these traumatic experiences. In other cases, contact was broken because of political circumstances, immigration, survivors’ wish to forget the terrible past and to focus on rebuilding new lives, and in some cases because of rescuers’ fear of their anti-Semitic neighbors finding out that they had sheltered Jews. Decades later some families set out to renew contact and turn to Yad Vashem. Tearful encounters demonstrate the special bonds between the families, and, despite distances, differences in background and language barriers, between the members of the second, third and even fourth generations.
"My family is alas extremely small… But our Jewish family (for we consider them truly family!) came over with children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren! What a wonderful tribute to my grandmother!"
(Catherine Pots, granddaughter of Righteous Among the Nations from Belgium, Marie Pots)