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Yad Vashem to honor Polish Woman and her Children as Righteous Among the Nations

24 August 2010

On Wednesday August 25, 2010, Yad Vashem will hold a ceremony posthumously honoring Teodora Olszewska and her children Anna, Kazimierz and Józefa as Righteous Among the Nations. Staszek Olszewski, grandson of the Righteous Teodora Olszewska, and son of the Righteous Anna Olszewska will receive the medal and certificate of honor on their behalf. The ceremony will take place in the presence of a representative of the Polish Embassy in Israel, members of the Olszewska family and members of the Nomkin family who were rescued by the Righteous.

A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 11:00 followed by the awarding the medal and certificate in the Synagogue at Yad Vashem. The events will take place in Polish and Hebrew. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations dept. 02 644 3410.

Rescue Story:

The Nomkin family lived in the district of Vilnius, Lithuania. The Germans captured the city on June 27, 1941 and the Jews were ordered to wear the yellow star, surrender their property and were sent to forced labor. In October 1941, the Jews of Szarkowszczyzna (Sharkovshchizna) and its surrounding areas were incarcerated in two ghettos. Among the more than 1,900 Jews forced into the crowded ghetto were Gita Nomkin, a widow, and her 13 children.

On July 18, 1942, the ghetto in Szarkowszczyzna was demolished. Only 700 people managed to escape. Gita and eight of her children were murdered along with the other 1,200 Jews that remained in the ghetto. Martin, Hirsch, Yehuda, Yehudit, and Esther Nomkin, their spouses and a family friend fled, and arrived one after the other at the home of the Olszewskas, pre-war acquaintances of the family. Teodora Olszewska, a widow, lived in the family home with her five children. Teodora received the Nomkins graciously and with real concern, hiding the group of eight in her home: Martin and Bella, Hirsh & Michalina (whose young daughter Dora was murdered during their escape from the ghetto), Yehuda, Esther and Yehudit and her husband Morris.

Teodora and her adult children – Anna, Józefa and Kazimierz -- devotedly cared for the Nomkins. They supplied them with food and clothing and protected them. Rumors ran rampant among the neighbors that the Olszewskis were hiding Jews. Their home was searched and Teodora and her daughter Anna were questioned, but they protected the family hiding in their home and under their care.

The Olszewskas also helped the group maintain contact with other Jews who were hidden in the home of Teodora’s brother (Mitrofan Siedziukiewicz, who has been previously recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations) and with a group of Jews who were hiding in the forest. At the beginning of July 1943, after spending almost two years in hiding, the Nomkin family joined a group of Russian partisans. Esther Nomkin returned to the Olszewska family and stayed hidden at their home until liberation. Teodora Olszewska passed away in 1975, her son Kazimierz in 1946 and daughter Anna in 2006. Józefa lives today in Vilnius.

On April 27, 2010, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous at Yad Vashem decided to recognize Teodora Olszewska and her children Anna, Kazimierz and Józefa as Righteous Among the Nations.

For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations Program: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/index.asp