POLISH STUDIES ENDOWMENT COMMITTEE

Polish Heroes: Those Who Rescued Jews

Polish Heroes: Those Who Rescued Jews

January 22, 2009

Martha Golubiec: Żegota and Righteous Among Nations

Ms. Golubiec is one of the founders of the UW PSEC, its past chair,
and the organizer of the Polish Heroes series. A transplant to the
Northwest from Chicago where she graduated from Loyola University in
Political Science, she has been involved in the Seattle Polish community
for the past 40 years, founding Polish Scouts at the Polish Home and
actively participating in the life of different Polish organizations.
She was awarded the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the
Republic of Poland in honor of her exceptional support for the
Solidarity movement from beyond borders of Poland, especially during the
martial law period.

Ms. Golubiec provided a brief introduction of modern Polish history,
with special emphasis on WWII and the Polish WWII resistance
organization code-named ?egota, which was founded to help Jews escape
the Holocaust. It is estimated that about 50,000 Jews who survived the
Holocaust were helped by the organization. She also introduced two
documentaries on the Polish Heroes. The films were titled “Zegota and
Irena Sendler” and “Righteous Among Nations.” The title “Righteous
Among the Nations,” awarded by Yad Vashem, the Israeli organization
responsible for documenting the history of the Jewish people during the
Holocaust, honors Gentiles who saved Jews during World War II. The
Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, in which marble plaques have
been engraved with the names of the rescuers according to country, was
inaugurated in 1996. There are 6,066 Polish men and women recognized as
“Righteous,” amounting to over 25 per cent of the total number of 22,211
honorary titles awarded. Most of the rescues were carried out by
individuals, but there also existed organized networks dedicated to
aiding Jews—most notably, the above mentioned ?egota organization.
?egota is the only organization honored by a tree planted in the Avenue
of the Righteous. The tree recognizes and pays tribute to this unique
group which, despite the arrests of numerous members, was able to
operate from 1942 to 1945 and carry out its mission in the
German-occupied Poland.

The second lecture in the Polish Heroes, Those Who Rescued Jews,
exhibit and lecture series, sponsored by the University of Washington
Polish Studies Endowment Committee (UW PSEC), Consulate General of the
Republic of Poland in Los Angeles, and Washington State Holocaust
Education Resource Center, in cooperation with the University of
Washington’s Ellison Center, History Department, Jewish Studies Program,
and Slavic Department.

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