17 July 2006
On Tuesday, July 18, 2006, four Righteous Among the Nations from Ukraine will be posthumously recognized at a ceremony at Yad Vashem. The ceremony will take place in the Garden of the Righteous at 11:30, in Hebrew and Russian. Attending the ceremony will be survivors who were rescued by the Righteous. The medals and certificates will be presented by Natan Eitan, Director General of Yad Vashem, and Judge Jacob Turkel, Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous.
Rescuer: Nestor Sniadanko
Survivor: Antonia Gruber
In 1936, Antonia Gruber was a university student in Lvov, where she became friendly with a group of Ukrainian students, among them Nestor Sniadanko. Antonia and Nestor stayed in contact even after the war began, and Lvov fell to the Germans on 30 June 1941.
Nestor continued to visit the Gruber family even after the pogroms of July 1941, and despite the generally antisemitic sentiment in the city. After Antonia’s father Shimon Gruber was murdered, Nestor protected the family from wild gangs in the city. He brought information and food to Antonia, her mother Blanca, her brothers Yosef and Marcel, and to a grandmother. He continued to provide for them after they were moved into the ghetto.
After the August 1942 aktion when thousands of Jews were killed, Antonia escaped the German factory she was working in, and arrived at Nestor’s apartment in a upscale Polish neighborhood in Lvov. Nestor greeted her warmly and convinced a cousin who was living in the apartment as well to welcome their guest. Despite the risks, Antonia remained in Nestor’s apartment, and hid behind a large pantry anytime the doorbell rang. Nestor also agreed to temporarily hide another young Jewish woman, a friend of Antonia, until he found her an alternate hiding place. Antonia also discovered that Nestor, who was working in a government food rationing office, provided food to a Polish family who was sheltering a Jewish child. In July 1944 the Red Army liberated Lvov. In 1945 Nestor and Antonia married. About a year later the couple left Ukraine. In a DP camp in Germany, on their way to Israel, their son Fred was born, and Nestor changed his name to Yosef Gruber. Yosef Gruber (nee Nestor Sniadanko) passed away in 1979. Antonia Gruber will accept the medal and certificate on her late husband’s behalf.
Rescuer: Frania Dedek
Survivor: Binyamin Blitzer
Binyamin Blitzer was born in 1938 in Nadvorna in Poland (today Ukraine), to Dov Berl Blitzer and Tema Kramer Blitzer. The Blitzers were a wealthy family, and owned a number of apartments for rent and a leather goods factory. Following his mother’s death, Binyamin was cared for by his father, sister Sonia and grandmother.
In June 1941, Nadvorna was occupied, and amongst the first victims was Dov Berl Blitzer. In September all the Jews were closed into a ghetto. Frania Dedek, who worked in the Blitzer home, stayed in their apartment and would send food and other necessities into the ghetto for the family, via a local Ukrainian. In December 1941, the grandmother, using the Ukrainian as a go between, asked Frania if she would take Binyamin out of the ghetto. Sonia chose to stay behind with her grandmother; they both were killed.
Frania took Binyamin and escaped with him. For many months they wandered through the forests in the area of Nadvorna and Skalat, constantly changing their hiding places. At night Frania would hide Binyamin and go on her own to search for food scraps. A few times, she was able to find work on local farms, and hid Binyamin in nearby pigsties or fields, while she worked. Each time Binyamin was discovered they would flee to the forest and search for new hiding places. During this time, Frania treated Binyamin as her own son. At the end of the war, when the Red Army liberated Skalat, Frania took another Jewish orphan under her wing, a boy named Eliezer Art. Together with the two boys, Frania arrived at a DP camp in Germany, where they were able to board the Exodus, which was forced back to Germany by the British. In February 1948, Frania immigrated to Israel with the two boys. Frania sent Binyamin to a religious school, believing this to be the wish of his parents. Frania converted to Judaism and married Holocaust survivor Avraham Bielski. Frania Bielski (nee Dedek) passed away in 1986 at the age of 77. Binyamin Blitzer will accept the medal and certificate on his late adoptive mother’s behalf.
Rescuers: Tatyana Minkovskaya and Nikifor Kurochka
Survivor: Nelli Monogova - Zaslavskaya
Nelli Zaslavaskaya was born in November 1940 to Vasiliy Monogov and Sarah Koplev in Chegla, a village in Turkmenistan. At the beginning of World War II, Sarah, a midwife, took Nelli to Cherson in Ukraine, where Sarah’s family lived, while Vassily joined the army.
In August 1941, the Germans captured Charson and began killing the Jews there. Sarah, Nelli and a group of other Jews found a hiding place in their basement; but someone informed on them and they were captured. As the Germans lead them to their deaths, Tatyana Mikovskaya left her apartment, which was in the same building. She saw the group and recognized Sarah. As Sarah passed by Tatyana, she handed her her baby Nelli and asked her to save her daughter. Tatyana hurried home, hid the baby, and took care of her as her own child.
In 1943, Tatyana was deported with Nelli to forced labor in Germany. On the ship that carried her and hundreds of other deportees, Tatyana met Nikifor, whom she would eventually marry. Near the Bessarabian shore, the boat was air bombed. Some of the passengers, among them Tatyana, Nikifor and Nelli, were able to reach shore and escape. For many months, the three wandered in Bessarabia, suffering cold, hunger and surviving from handouts until at the end of that year they returned to Charson. In March 1944, the Red Army liberated the town.
Throughout the war, Nelli was taken care of by Tatyana and Nikifor, who treated her as their own daughter. After the war, since none of Nelli’s relations arrived to claim her, Tatyana and Nikifor formally adopted her. Nelli stayed with them until their deaths. Nikifor passed away in 1974; Tatyana died in 1989. In 2002, Nelli immigrated to Israel with her children and grandchildren. Nelli will receive the medal and certificate on behalf of her late adoptive parents.
The event is open to the press in coordination with the Media Relations Department.