The Memorial Ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance: part of the event posthumously honoring Filipp and Anna Bogush as Righteous Among the Nations
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23 December 2021
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, posthumously honored Filipp and Anna Bogush from Belarus as Righteous Among the Nations at a moving ceremony held yesterday on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. The Bogushes risked their lives to save Boris Byvalyi, a Jewish soldier serving in the Red Army, who was injured during the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan and Dr. Joel Zisenwine, Director of Yad Vashem's Department of the Righteous Among the Nations, presented the medal and certificate to the granddaughter of the Righteous couple, Elena Kimbarovskaia, who lives in Israel, on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Also attending was the Ambassador of Belarus to Israel H.E. Mr. Evgeny Semenovich Vorobyev, members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations, and family members.
Filipp and Anna Bogush's names were added to Yad Vashem's Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. The ceremony honoring Filipp and Anna Bogush included a special memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. The medal and certificate were presented in the Yad Vashem Synagogue.
At the event, Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan spoke about the days of World War II in Belarus: "These were dark days. The Nazi German occupiers treated the Belarusian population with extraordinary cruelty, and we recognize the suffering experienced by the Belarusian people and minorities in Belarus," Dayan said. "However, the Holocaust was unique. Hitler, together with the Nazis and their collaborators, did not just attack the Jews as part of the war effort; the Nazis waged an ideological war against them, exploiting them, confiscating their property, pursuing them across all Europe and North Africa, to the very last Jew, regardless of who they were, where they lived, what they did or what their nationality was - and ultimately, attempting to annihilate the Jewish people. While the Holocaust includes elements of genocide, it differs from all other atrocities committed by Nazi Germany during World War II, as well as from any other genocide throughout history. In view of this fact, the actions of the Righteous Among the Nations in general, and of the Bogush couple in particular, arouse special admiration and gratitude to them, greater than we can ever express."
During the ceremony Kimbaraovskaia recalled that her beloved grandparents "were always very kind, sympathetic and honest people; they never refused to help anyone. They never discriminated against people or judged them by the color or their skin, nationality or religious views." Furthermore, she highlighted that she regretted that her father did not live to see this day. "He was always proud of his parents' selfless actions," she recalled. "I am very glad that we are able to fulfill his last wishes."
The Bogush family lived in the village of Negnichi in the Korelichi district of the Grodno region of Belarus.
In late June 1941, shortly after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, while heavy fighting continued on the front between German and Red Army soldiers, a group of Soviet soldiers entered the village one night, carrying a fellow soldier who had sustained serious wounds. As the Red Army was beginning to retreat eastward, the injured soldier was unable to keep up with his comrades-in-arms. The soldiers left the wounded fighter at the entrance to the Bogush family's home and continued on their way.
Filipp and Anna Bogush were shocked at the discovery of the soldier at the door of their house, but immediately brought him inside. They heated water, removed his military uniform which was soaked in blood, bathed him, and treated the injuries he had incurred to his right knee and hand. The wounded soldier introduced himself as Boris Byvalyi, a Jew born in Kiev who served as the battalion commissar until he was injured.
The assistance the couple extended to Byvalyi, a Jew and a communist with an ideological role in the Soviet army, endangered not only their lives but also those of their young children, Misha and Shura. Despite the great threat, they hid, fed and cared for Byvalyi for several days and nights, until he regained his strength. While the injury to his knee was only superficial and began to heal, the wound on Byvalyi’s hand became infected and there was a fear that without further medical intervention, necrosis could set in.
A few weeks later, in mid-July, Filipp Bogush took Byvalyi, dressed in peasant clothes, to the hospital in the nearby town of Stolbtsy. They had buried Byvalyi's documents, including an identity card and a Communist Party membership card, in the ground. As they parted at the hospital, the two wished each other well and hoped that the other would survive the war.
The Bogush family home was destroyed during the German retreat in the summer of 1944. Immediately after liberation by the Soviets, Filipp Bogush was drafted into the Red Army. He did not have a chance to meet Byvalyi again, who in 1945 returned to the village to thank his rescuers and collect the documents he had buried. He found Anna Bogush and her children, who gave him Filipp's military mailing address. The two kept in touch through letters. Byvalyi offered Filipp to move with his family to Byvalyi’s hometown of Kiev, where he had the opportunity to help the Bogushes financially, but Filipp chose to stay in Negnichi, where he was born and raised.
In the 1970s, correspondence with the survivor was renewed at the initiative of Michael, Filipp and Anna's grandson. Boris Byvalyi still lived in Kiev. He was a widower, suffering from health problems and was unable to accept the Bogush family's invitation to visit them.
On 26 November, 2020, Yad Vashem recognized Filipp and Anna Bogush as Righteous Among the Nations.
To date, Yad Vashem has recognized some 28,000 Righteous Among the Nations from over 50 nations worldwide. For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations program, click here.