Backenroth was born in 1905 in Drohobych, Galicia. Heir to an oil family, Backenroth studied agriculture in France as part of his plan to make Aliyah, but returned home after graduating to help his family cope with the severe economic crisis at the time. Between 1939 and 1941, under Soviet rule, Backenroth was appointed as county agronomist by Nikita Khrushchev, then a regional official.
In 1943, in a clever ruse, Backenroth was recognized by the Gestapo as an “Aryan.” Despite the danger to him and to his family from the local population he continued to play, befuddle and confuse the Nazis. His position as an “Aryan” allowed him to move freely and organize a food supply system for the Jews who survived in the bunkers and hiding places he created.
When Backenroth-Bronicki was asked why he does not tell stories about that period of his life he said, “what accompanies me all the time, are not the Jews I was able to save, but the memory of all the Jews I could not rescue.”
From the committee considerations: Backenroth-Bronicki is a symbol of Jewish solidarity during the Holocaust, expressed in surprisingly varied initiatives to rescue Jews from deportation and extermination. The resourcefulness, dedication, wisdom and courage demonstrated by Backenroth-Bronicki against the Gestapo from the moment he realized he could save the lives of Jews, is a marvel of risk-taking and limit-testing on a daily basis. His unique personality, authoritativeness and reliability, made him likeable to both his enemies and friends—among them two Germans who helped with the rescue operations, and later received Righteous Among the Nations. These rescue operations ensured the survival of dozens of Jews. Therefore the committee decided to honor Backenroth-Bronicki with the Jewish Rescuer Citation.
The Citation will be presented posthumously to Backenroth-Bronicki’s son Yehuda Lucien, who as a child was complicit in some of his father’s rescue efforts.
Since its establishment in 2011, the Jewish Rescuers Citation has been presented in order to correct the public misconception that Jews did not rescue other Jews during the Holocaust. To date 162 heroes were honored for rescue activities in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Holland.
The ceremony will take place at the annual memorial for the survivors of Drohobych, Borislav and the Surroundings organization. Participating in the ceremony is Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center and Yehuda Bronicki, son of Naftali Backenroth, family and friends.
For more information please contact: Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center, Tel: 02-6251743, 052-5536441 email@example.com