(L-R) Andrew Jampoler and his wife Suzy together with Andrew's half sisters Sylvia Yoma Tarquine and Monica Awin Yoma
04 July 2022
This week, Holocaust survivor and decorated retired US Naval Officer Andrew Jampoler, who was rescued during WWII along with his mother and cousin, gathered with his extended family at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, to commemorate the six million Jews of Europe and North Africa who were murdered during the Holocaust and honor Father Józef Czapran, a Catholic priest from Poland, who saved them from the same fate. The family toured the Holocaust History Museum and participated in a private ceremony in Yad Vashem's Synagogue.
At the outbreak of WWII, Łucja (Lucy) Jampoler, her son Karol and his wife Hanka lived near the city of Lwów. When it became clear that all the Jews were being forced to relocate to the local ghetto, the Jampoler family approached Father Czapran for assistance. At great personal risk, he secured false papers attesting to their Christian identity, including forged birth and marriage certificates, thus allowing them to remain on the "Aryan" side of the city.
In December 1941, Łucja managed to bring her niece, Irena Stella (Irka) Wilder (later Krysia Winecki), from Stanisławów to Lwów, and Father Czapran also gave her a forged birth certificate. In January 1942, Hanka gave birth to her son, Andrew. The priest arranged falsified papers for Andrew, as well. He also organized a nun to teach Irena Catholic customs and prayers, to help avoid any revelation of her Jewish identity.
After their hiding place was compromised sometime in 1942, the Jampolers and Irena escaped to Warsaw. Karol vanished, never to be heard from again. Father Czapran continued to help the Jampoler family in Warsaw, and was instrumental in their survival until liberation.
In 1946, the family immigrated to the United States. Andrew Jampoler served in the US Navy, and a renowned author. Irka immigrated to Australia, where she lives today.
On 24 January 2022, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, posthumously recognized Father Józef Czapran as Righteous Among the Nations.
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan opened the recent ceremony at Yad Vashem.
"The Holocaust was a time when people were indifferent or fearful to act and stand up to the persecution and murder of other human beings," he remarked. "But there were a few who risked their lives and the lives of their families – and even their neighbors – to help save Jews during the Holocaust. Every year we recognize many new Righteous Among the Nations, the State of Israel's highest honor on behalf of the Jewish people, bestowed on those few individuals who acted bravely and selflessly, and we are grateful to have this special event to commemorate the actions of Father Józef Czapran.”
Three generations of the Jampoler family, including Andrew and his half-sisters, daughter Christina (Chrissy) Jampoler Houlahan, a member of the US House of Representatives for the State of Pennsylvania and an Air Force veteran as well, and Rep Houlahan's children all traveled to Israel to attend the emotional event at Yad Vashem.
Andrew Jampoler remarked:
"We're all here at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to honor the memory of Father Józef Czapran, whose sympathy and extraordinary courage made survival during that dark time possible, and in turn enabled the free lives of our children and grandchildren. Like me, they too are the beneficiaries of his courage and compassion."
Andrew's cousin Irka, who was also rescued by Father Czapran, was unable to attend the event at Yad Vashem, but her remarks were read by her great niece Molly Houlahan.
"I have reminisced for many years about those few members of my family who miraculously survived the Holocaust and the many more who tragically perished in it. These memories come from a lifetime ago, but are so vivid that I recall them as if the events occurred just yesterday. Today we thank Father Czapran for his bravery and human decency, and for risking his own life to save others. I am eternally grateful for his kindness."
In attendance at the ceremony honoring Father Czapran were US Deputy Chief of Mission Jonathan Shrier, and Charge d'Affairs of the Polish Embassy in Israel Piotr Bakłażec.
Rep. Houlahan talked about the truly remarkable lives the Jampoler family members went on to lead after being rescued by the selfless actions of Father Józef Czapran, and pondered whether Father Czapran could have possibly known that this could be possible when"back in 1942 or '43, with the stroke of a pen, he saved so many of my father's family." She concluded: "I would like to imagine that decades ago Father Czapran knew exactly what he was setting into motion. I am sure that these were not the only ones he saved, and I am certain that he believed that each and every person he saved was, and is, fundamentally worthy of grace… and for that belief he risked his life for all of ours. We are all here today to give thanks to the generosity and bravery of a man whom none of us ever knew."
At the conclusion of the event in the Synagogue, the family unveiled the name of Father Józef Czapran on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations.
To date, Yad Vashem has recognized over 29,000 Righteous Among the Nations.