Yad Vashem Honors Five Righteous Gentiles

A ceremony posthumously honoring five non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust was held today (Thursday) at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 11:32

The awards were bestowed upon Yevgenia Morozova (Belarus), Stoicheva Stanka (Bulgaria), Feodor Melnik (Ukraine), and Steponas and Viktorija Zrelskis (Lithuania). Relatives of the five received the Righteous Gentile awards in their names.

The ceremony was conducted in Hebrew and Russian, with the participation of two of the survivors - Sofa Kremen Grinshtein and Medi Hillel - and relatives of other survivors.

Yad Vashem provided background information on the five righteous rescuers. Yevgenia Morozova, for instance, risked her life several times to host Sofia and Galina Levina and their family after the Minsk ghetto was established in August 1941. Yevgenia obtained forged documents for the two sisters, and pretended they were her relatives. On one occasion, the sisters were stopped in the street by a policeman who suspected they were Jewish. They asked the policeman to go to Yevgenia’s house, and she convinced him that they were her cousins and were not Jewish. This was especially dangerous, as Sofia and Galina’s father had been a well-known pediatrician in Minsk before the war, thus that it was likely that the policeman could have been a former patient.

Stanka Stoicheva of Bulgaria hid Leah Farchi, a young pregnant wife whose husband had been sent to forced labor, in her home in Gergoviste. At one point during the pregnancy, Leah’s life was in danger, but it wasn’t possible for her to go to the hospital without the proper permit. Stanka, a midwife by profession, took it upon herself to help Leah give birth with the basic means at her disposal, and thus she saved both the lives of Leah and the baby, Medi. Leah and Medi then remained in Stanka’s house, and she took care of all their needs.

Feodor Melnik of Ukraine saved young Sofa Kremen, whose parents had been murdered in an action in August 1942, by hiding her in the the attic of his work place. He later smuggled her to his parents' home, and from there to the ghetto in Shargorod, which was under Romanian control, where she remained until liberation in March 1944. Immediately after liberation, Melnik was drafted into the Red Army and fell in battle in 1945. Sofa later testified that Melnik also aided a Jewish family by the name of Krasnyanski.

Steponas and Viktorija Zrelskis hid their friends Isaak and Pesia Katz of Kovno, Lithuania from August 1943 until August 1944 in a bunker they built especially for them under their granary. They padded the bunker with straw and put a wooden bed in it.

More information about the Righteous Among the Nations program is available at "http://www1.yadvashem.org/righteous/home_righteous.html."