Museum commemorates 1,500 towns where Jews were saved from Nazis

Museum of Poles rescuing Jewish compatriots in village of Markowa opens memorial orchard for those who saved Jews in WWII.

JTA and Mordechai Sones ,

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visits the Ulma Family Museum of Pole
Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visits the Ulma Family Museum of Pole

The Museum of Poles Saving Jews opened a memorial orchard commemorating 1,500 towns and villages where Poles saved Jews during World War II.

The orchard, which was dedicated Friday in Markowa, in southeastern Poland, includes only towns where a resident was designated Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust authority.

Between trees, on glass illuminated boards, nearly 1,500 names of villages, towns and cities are listed where Polish gentiles saved Jews during the German occupation. Yad Vashem has awarded nearly 7,000 Poles with the Righteous designation.

According to Institute of National Remembrance Vice President Mateusz Szpytma, Poles saved tens of thousands of Jews during the war.

“Just as these trees bear fruit, your commitment and attitude will bear fruit each year because the descendants of those you have saved come into the world each year,” Szpytma said at the ceremony.

The orchard is another Polish initiative emphasizing Polish involvement in helping Jews during the war. Poland wants to honor them with two more monuments in Warsaw and a museum built in Torun.

A diplomatic crisis erupted between Poland and Israel earlier this year after the Polish government passed legislation that criminalizes blaming Poles for Nazi crimes.