This year’s ceremony honors Wilhelm Filderman and Itschak Artzi (Romania), José Aboulker (Algiers) and 10 other rescuers who operated in Poland, France and Belgium
For the first time, two rescuers from Mandatory Palestine – paratrooper Hannah Szenes and WZO official Moshe Shapiro – will be recognized with the Jewish Rescuers Citation
(Jerusalem, April 5, 2021)—The B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (KKL-JNF) on Thursday, April 8, will hold, for the 20th consecutive year, a joint Holocaust commemoration ceremony on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. This is the only Yom HaShoah event dedicated annually to commemorating the heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the Holocaust. The ceremony will take place at the B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest “Scroll of Fire” Plaza at 10 a.m. Israel time. Due to Covid-19 restrictions this year’s ceremony will be held at the forest with limited attendance and will be broadcast live on YouTube.
The B’nai B’rith Martyr’s Forest is the largest joint B’nai B’rith and KKL-JNF project, which memorializes the victims of the Holocaust with six million trees planted in the picturesque Jerusalem mountains near Moshav Kesalon. At the pinnacle of the forest stands the “Scroll of Fire,” created by renowned sculptor Nathan Rapoport, which invokes the destruction of the Jewish people in the Holocaust and their redemption in the State of Israel. The event will commence with personal testimonies by Holocaust survivors and rescuers.
Speakers in the ceremony will be: Mr. Avraham Duvdevani, World Chairman, KKL-JNF; Dr. Haim V. Katz, Chairman, B’nai B’rith World Center-Jerusalem; Brigadier General Yehuda Yehoshua, Commander, Border Guard Combat Training Center; H.E. Radu Ioanid, Ambassador of Romania to Israel; Att. Aryeh Barnea, Chairman, Committee to Recognize the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust (JRJ) and Naom Semel, Director General, Habima National Theatre and son-in-law of rescuer Yitzhak Artzi and brother-in-law of his son, singer Shlomo Artzi.
During the ceremony, the “Jewish Rescuers Citation” will be conferred on 13 rescuers who operated in Algiers, Romania, Hungary, France, Poland, Austria and Belgium. The citation – a joint program of the B’nai B’rith World Center and JRJ that has recognized over 350 heroes since its inception in 2011 – will acknowledge for the first time two rescuers from Eretz Israel – paratroopers Hannah Szenes and Jewish Agency official Moshe Haim Shapiro.
The conferees are:
1. José Aboulker – Head of the Jewish resistance in Algiers. Paved the road for the Allied capture of the city, avoiding the planned deportation of Jews.
2. Itschak Artzi – Head of the Zionist-Pioneers resistance in Romania. Led a mission to Transnistria organized by the Jewish community to bring hundreds of Jewish children to Bucharest, saving their lives.
3. William Bachner – Bachner was employed under false Aryan identity as an engineer in a German company working in Poland and Ukraine. He used his position to employ relatives and other Jews whose lives were in danger and by doing so saved their lives.
4. Jacob Gutfrajnd – Head of the Jewish partisans group in Brussels. The group saved Jews by targeting informers and burning the lists of Brussels Jews in order to prevent them from being tracked down and deported to the extermination camps.
5. Sara Felzenstein Gutfrajnd – One of the first women drafted into the Jewish partisans group in Brussels. Gutfrajnd was also a member of the Committee for the Defense of Jews in Belgium (CDJ), in which she found shelter for Jewish children and families in convents and with Christian families, falsified documents, raised money and provided food stamps to families that hid Jewish children.
6. Hannah Szenes – One of seven paratroopers from Eretz Israel killed in World War II. Szenes volunteered to infiltrate her country of birth, Hungary, on a mission devised by the Jewish Agency and the British Army to gather intelligence for the British, to organize rebellion activities and to rescue Jews.
7. Ruth Uzrad – A member of the Zionist Youth Movement in France, Uzrad conveyed Jewish children to hiding places and helped to forge documents.
8. Rodolphe Furth – A member of the Jewish Resistance in France. He forged documents and found hiding places for Jews and was also in charge of transferring money from Switzerland to fund resistance activities.
9. Wilhelm Filderman – Member of the Romanian Parliament, representative of the Joint in Romania and head of the Jewish community during the Holocaust. Filderman used his personal connections with General Antonescu to appeal for the repeal of anti-Jewish edicts and oversaw rescue missions to Transnistria, to which he was himself exiled in retaliation for the frequent petitions to Antonescu.
10. Line Kaufmann – Member of the OSE-Garel network hiding children. She also attended to the needs of those in hiding.
11. Vitka Kempner Kovner – Member of the “United Partisans Organization,” a clandestine organization in the Ghetto in Vilna. She served as a liaison between the ghetto and the Aryan side of the city. After one of the sabotage operations she decided to defy orders and lead a group of 60 Jewish non-combatants into the forest, thus saving their lives.
12. Nachum Remba – During the Grossaktion Warsaw (July – September 1942) he placed himself in an ambulance at the entrance to Umschlagplatz deportation plaza where all the Jews were assembled for deportation. By bribing the guards, he was allowed to remove some Jews from the masses converging on the plaza, saving hundreds of children and adults.
13. Moshe Haim Bezalel Shapiro – As director of the Jewish Agency Aliya department, Shapiro met with Adolf Eichmann in August 1939 in the Gestapo offices in Vienna and rescued thousands of the city’s Jews by providing them with certificates to travel to Israel and paying ransom for them.
Since the establishment of the Jewish Rescuers Citation in 2011, nearly 350 heroes have been honored for rescue activities in Germany, Holland, France, Slovakia, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Belarus, Italy, Poland, Morocco, Algiers, Hungary and Belgium.
The phenomena of Jewish rescue and the instructive stories of thousands of Jews who labored to save their endangered brethren throughout Europe have yet to receive appropriate public recognition and resonance. Many who could have tried to flee preferred to stay and rescue others; some paid for it with their lives. With great heroism, Jews in every country in occupied Europe employed subterfuge, forgery, smuggling, concealment and other methods to ensure that Jews survived the Holocaust, or assisted them in escaping to safe havens, and in doing so foiled the Nazi goal of total genocide against the Jews. The organizers of the ceremony view it as especially important to expose Jewish youth to these narratives as a model for Jewish solidarity and courage.
For interviews and more details, please contact: B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider at 052-5536441 or email@example.com
B’nai B’rith International has advocated for global Jewry and championed the cause of human rights since 1843. B’nai B’rith is recognized as a vital voice in promoting Jewish unity and continuity, a staunch defender of the State of Israel, a tireless advocate on behalf of senior citizens and a leader in disaster relief. With a presence around the world, we are the Global Voice of the Jewish Community. Visit bnaibrith.org.