March 8, 2007
Rescuer and rescued reunion aids Polish talks on Shoah claims
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Those who helped Jews did not receive recognition from the Polish government until the fall of communism, and many have lived in poverty. Some who lived in small towns ran afoul of neighbors who did not understand why they risked their lives for Jews.
The Claims Conference has been assisting the Righteous Among the Nations for 40 years, channeling small monthly payments through the foundation that have added up to more than $6 million. The program was initiated by Saul Kagan, who led the Claims Conference for 47 years. Kagan recalled the signs in Polish erected by the Nazis that warned of death to those who helped the Jews and financial rewards for those who turned them in.
"If I had been a young man then with a family to take care of and Jews had come knocking on my door, I don't know what I would have done," he said. "I just don't know."
But Hanna Zmigrodska, 85, who was 20 when her parents sheltered three Jewish couples and two women in the family's Warsaw apartment, had no doubts.
"We had no problems with Jews," she said. "Helping is the most natural reaction."
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