I worked with an extraordinary group of people, whose rescue actions were guided by the principle 'All for one and one for all'. I can't recall coming across another group like this: So focused during all the years of the war, so independent and determined to help others, and to save friends and fight the Germans at risk to their own lives.
Manus Diamant wrote these words about his friends, members of the "Nasza Grupa" ("our group" in Polish), a group of young Jews from the "Hanoar Hazioni" youth movement, who banded together with members of other pioneer youth movements in early 1942 in the Zaglembie (Zagłębie) region in southwest Poland. The group sabotaged German property, attempted to prevent the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz, obtained false documents and smuggled escaping Jews across borders. Approximately 50 members of the group survived, including Manus, who was later one of the team that captured Adolf Eichmann.
All through the Holocaust period, in the shadow of persecution at the hands of the Nazis, there were Jews who attempted to save their fellow Jews. The conditions for rescue were often far from optimal, and the attempts were not always successful. Jews saved other Jews by forging documents, locating hiding places, smuggling, providing food, clothing and medicines. The rescuers worked in communities, ghettos, camps, in the ranks of the partisans, on their own and as part of rescue groups. In some instances they acted alone, while at other times they were assisted by non-Jews, who were later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
The testimonies of Holocaust survivors are filled with recollections of Jewish acts of kindness and solidarity. Names of rescuers are not always remembered. Sometimes they are recalled by virtue of the position they held in the camp: the "Meister", the "Lageraelteste", the "Stubaelteste", the Kapo, the doctor, amongst others. Sometimes they mention their rescuers by their first name, their family name or their profession, but have no further information.
This exhibition tells the story of the "Nasza Grupa" and other rescuers, and features eleven stories of Jews saving Jews, from Belarus, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, France, Croatia and Romania.
The exhibition is based on survivor testimony and on a range of items from the Yad Vashem Archives and Collections, some that were donated to Yad Vashem many years ago, and others that were donated only recently, as part of the national project "Gathering the Fragments".
Itzkin Rubin, to his rescuer Samuel Skornicki