The Kruminis-Lozowskis with Holocaust survivor Raya-Rachel Varejes, surrounded by her family
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04 April 2012
On Wednesday April 4, 2012, Yad Vashem held a ceremony posthumously honoring Antoni and Maria Kruminis-Łozowski, as Righteous Among the Nations from Poland. Their grandson Marek Kruminis-Łozowski accepted the medal and certificate of honor on their behalf. The event took place in the presence of Holocaust Survivor Rachel Varejes, the Polish Ambassador to Israel H.E. Jacek Hodorowicz, Holocaust survivors, family and friends.
A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance was held followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate.
The Rescue Story
Until the German occupation in 1941, Zalman and Chaya-Esther Friedman lived in Kaunas, Lithuania with their two young children, 11-year-old Avraham and three-year-old Rachel. In the fall of 1941, Zalman was murdered by antisemitic Lithuanian nationalists; Chaya-Esther managed to escape from the ghetto with her two children. While fleeing the ghetto, Chaya-Esther was somehow separated from the two children, and later on Rachel became separated from her brother Avraham and the little girl was left on her own.
Antoni Kruminis-Łozowski, a Lithuanian of Polish origin, and his wife Maria, lived with their four grown children, Jozef, Kezimierz, Helena and Aleksander in Jaszuny, a town some 30 kilometers from Vilnius. They lived near the town's train station where Antoni worked as a manager. During the summer of 1942, the Kruminis-Łozowski family found a little girl, four-year-old Rachel, wandering around in Jaszuny. Antoni and Maria took Rachel into their home, although there was no doubt that she was Jewish. Antoni, Maria and their children treated Rachel as one of the family, taking care of all her needs. Although the family baptized Rachel, giving her the Polish name, "Anna," the little girl was neither allowed to leave the house alone, nor play with other children. Rachel remained with the Kruminis-Łozowskis during the entire German occupation of Lithuania.
After liberation in July 1944, Antoni and Maria discovered that Rachel's mother Chaya-Esther hadn't survived. Although Rachel's brother Avraham survived by hiding in various places, and was living in Vilnius, he was only 14-years-old and unable to care for his little sister on his own. Rachel remained with her rescuers until 1950, when Ilya and Hinda Shapira, relatives of Chaya-Esther's, sought Rachel out and adopted her. Rachel remained in contact with Antoni and Maria until she made Aliyah in 1972.
On March 7, 2005, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem decided to award Antoni and Maria Kruminis-Łozowski the title of Righteous Among the Nations. Although the couple was recognized in 2005, Yad Vashem was unable to locate any family members to receive the award on behalf of Antoni and Maria until recently. On a trip to research her family roots, Rachel, together with her daughters, went to visit the house in Jaszuny. The Kruminis-Łozowskis were no longer living there, but the family who did was able to connect Rachel to Marek Kruminis-Łozowski, Antoni and Maria's grandson, who is now able to receive the honor on his grandparent's behalf.