20 August 2014
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, a ceremony posthumously honoring Johann Karl Nürnberger from Germany as Righteous among the Nations will take place at Yad Vashem.
The medal and certificate of honor will be presented to Holocaust survivor Peter Nürnberger, who is also the Righteous’ adopted son, and who will arrive from Slovakia especially for the event. The event will take place in the presence of the Ambassador of Slovakia, and a representative of the German Embassy, and family and friends of the family. The medal and certificate will be presented by Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Department of the Righteous among the Nations, Yad Vashem. The event will begin in the Hall of Remembrance, at 11:00, and continue in the Synagogue, and will take place in English. Media who wish to attend, please RSVP: 02 644 3410.
The Rescue Story:
Johann Karl Nürnberger was born in Germany in 1902. During the 1920's he moved to Slovakia and settled in Kežmarok, at the foot of the High Tatra mountains– an area with a large German minority. It was there that Nürnberger met Paula Grossberg, a local Jewish girl, and the young couple soon married. When the deportations of the Jews of Slovakia began, Paula Nürnberger was protected because of her marriage to a German non-Jew; but her sisters, Terese, and Margit, were sent on the first Slovakian transport to Auschwitz. Her mother was arrested and taken to the camp in Žilina, from which the deportations to Auschwitz left. Hearing about his mother-in-law's arrest, Nürnberger managed to secure her release. Afraid that she too would be taken, Paula converted to Christianity and registered as a member of the Evangelical Church.
In 1943 hundreds of Jews fled from Poland to Hungary, which was considered relatively safe at that time. Their flight route passed through Kežmarok, and the Nürnbergers’ home became a refuge for the fleeing Jews who would stay there and rest before resuming their journey. One day a group of refugees brought with them a 9-month-old baby. The Nürnbergers had the baby placed in the care of another family, until his parents would arrive. When news reached them that the baby's parents were captured and killed, Johann Karl Nürnberger took the baby, Peter, and together with Paula kept him safe until the end of the war. In 1944, during the Slovak uprising, Nürnberger built a bunker outside of Kežmarok, which became a hideout for fleeing Jews and other fugitives.
After liberation Peter's uncle found the Nürnbergers, and asked to take the child with him. The Nürnbergers did not want to part with Peter, and so suggested that the local Rabbi should decide in the matter. The Rabbi decided that the child should remain with the family who raised him. Following the Rabbi's decision, Peter was officially adopted by Johann Karl and Paula (who had returned to Judaism). Johann Karl Nürnberger passed away in 1958. Paula passed away in 1964, and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Kežmarok.