'Righteous gentiles' are really true 'heroes'

December 13, 2009 

On Nov. 6, I was invited to the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie to participate in a memorial service honoring gentiles for having saved the lives of persecuted Jews under Hitler.

Large plaques on the museum's Wall of the Righteous surrounded a memorial fountain. Among the famous personalities who committed to saving Jews were also the names of Josef and Stefania Macugowski, a couple to whom I owe my survival. I was instrumental in bestowing that honor, which they so richly deserve.

My intention in writing this letter is to clarify the often-publicized term, "righteous gentile." I lived with one of the families who gave me life at the most critical time. The beautiful couple and their three young children laid their lives on the line to save eight Jews. In their house (above our shelter), a German command post occupied a section. We might have been discovered at any time by not only those soldiers, but also unfriendly neighbors.

These wonderful "righteous gentiles," my saviors, were maligned for the rest of their lives by their neighbors and community for sheltering Jews. They were brave enough to morally accept that risk. In the annals of Holocaust history, I can only coin the word "heroes" to those courageous people.

Allen Kupfer


The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service