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Yad Vashem to Posthumously Honor Two Polish Couples as Righteous Among the Nations

22 October 2018

On Tuesday, 23 October 2018, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will host a ceremony posthumously honoring two couples, Stanisław and Zofia Pszkit and Julian and Janina Kosek from Poland, as Righteous Among the Nations. Director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department Dr. Joel Zisenwine will present the medal and certificate of honor to Magdalena Królik, a relative of Stanisław Pszkit, and Anna Kosek, the daughter of Julian and Janina Kosek, on behalf of Yad Vashem, the State of Israel and the Jewish people. The ceremony will take place in the presence of members of the rescuers’ family and friends, including survivor Waldemar 'Wladek' Israel Torn and Zipora Shapira, as well as the Polish Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Marek Magierowski and members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations.  The ceremony will be begin at 11:00 in the Hall of Remembrance, with simultaneous translation to Polish and Hebrew.

Media interested in covering this event should contact media.relations@yadvashem.org.il, and arrive on Tuesday by 11:00 with a valid GPO card at the Hall of Remembrance.

The names of Stanisław and Zofia Pszkit and Julian and Janina Kosek will be added to the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.

The Rescue Story: Julian and Janina Kosek

Mordechai Wulkan and his wife Chaja (née Frenkel) lived in Kraków with their two children, Frania-Cipora and Icchak. After the Germans occupied Poland, the Jews were removed from their homes and crowded into a ghetto. Before entering the ghetto, Mordechai gave all his property to his friend from trade school, Julian Kosek, for safekeeping.

The family managed to stay together until March 1943, when the ghetto was liquidated. They were sent to the Plaszow concentration camp, where they were separated: Mordechai and four-year-old Icchak were sent to the men’s camp, and Chaja and her five-year-old daughter were sent to the women’s camp, where Chaja was assigned to work in a factory producing German military uniforms.

One day, Chaja managed to carry Frania-Cipora out of the camp while going out with her work detail, and she gave the child to Julian Kosek’s wife, Janina. Janina took Frania-Cipora home, and the couple cared for her lovingly. For the most part, they kept her in the house, but toward the end of the war, when they felt that the situation was becoming tense, Julian placed her with his relatives, and paid them with his own money for keeping her. Furthermore, when he learned that Mordechai and Chaja had been moved to another camp in Prynice, Kosek began sending them packages with food and cigarettes to help them survive.

After the war ended in May 1945, Mordechai and Chaja returned to the Koseks and were reunited with their daughter. Frania-Cipora’s brother, Icchak, had been murdered during an Aktion in May 1944, together with Mordechai’s father. The family left Poland in 1946.

On 30 August 2017, Yad Vashem recognized Julian and Janina Kosek as Righteous Among the Nations.

The Rescue Story: Zofia and Stanisław Pszkit

Waldemar 'Wladek' Israel Torn was born in 1935 in a suburb of Warsaw. After the outbreak of war, his mother Cila joined the resistance, transporting messages and food between the Miedzeszyn and Warsaw ghettos. She was eventually captured, and most likely died in the Majdanek concentration camp.

Before the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943, Wladek's father Janek Torn placed his son with a Polish friend. But when the riots began, the friend grew frightened and sent the child back to his father. The boy did not know the way and wandered the streets for several days, until he ran into a group of Jews being taken to the train station. Among them was his father. Wladek knew it was too dangerous to approach.

Wladek wandered aimlessly until he ran into a woman, Zofia Chęcinska. She did not believe him when he claimed that he was not Jewish, but took him home with her anyway. She placed him in her attic and did not tell the rest of her family. Every night, she brought him food for the next day.

With her soldier husband missing, no income, and her own young son and elderly mother both dead, Zofia decided to take Wladek with her to Warsaw and join Stanisław Pszkit – her friend and future husband. Wladek remained with Zofia and Stanisław, who both took devoted care of him and protected him. He remained with them after the war ended, but in 1946 he was taken from his adoptive parents against his will and placed in a Jewish orphanage in Łódź. Eventually he was sent to Israel. He never saw his adoptive parents again.

On 9 August 2016, Yad Vashem recognized Zofia Pszkit as Righteous Among Nations. On 21 September 2016, Yad Vashem recognized Stanisław Pszkit as Righteous Among Nations.

To date, Yad Vashem has recognized some 27,000 individuals from over 50 countries as Righteous Among the Nations.