Israel recognises Pole who saved Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto

November 20, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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The Israeli Embassy in Canberra has hosted a ceremony to honour the late Roman Talikowski, a Polish Catholic merchant who risked his life saving Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Mr Talikowski has been recognised by Yad Vashem and the State of Israel as a Righteous Among the Nations, the highest award bestowed upon non-Jews for bravery in helping Jews during the Holocaust.

Talikowski lived outside the Warsaw Ghetto, but regularly risked his life to smuggle food and money inside. He also facilitated the escape of Jews trapped within and organised false papers and safe houses.

Israeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel presents the certificate to

Israeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel presents the certificate to Jack Talikowski

A pre-recorded video from Holocaust survivor Joasia Przygoda was shown at the ceremony, where she recounted the harrowing story of being drugged as an infant, concealed in a bag and smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto by her father and assisted by Talikowski, who had to bribe his way through Nazi checkpoints.

Mr Talikowski’s award was accepted by his son Jack, at a ceremony attended by Polish Ambassador H.E. Pawel Milewski, Apostolic Nuncio H.M.R.E Paul Gallagher, and representatives of the Polish, Catholic and Jewish communities.

Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Shmuel Ben-Shmuel praised Talikowski’s selflessness and bravery:

“Roman’s actions showed the best of humanity when the worst qualities of mankind had consumed his society.”

“He found courage when others were paralysed by fear and made a stand against violence and atrocities. When he and so many others were surrounded by hatred and evil, Roman showed love and compassion. He had the conviction to act upon what he knew was right.”

President of the ACT Jewish community Rob Cusselalso addressed the ceremony saying: “Today we honour the memory of Roman Talikowski, Righteous Amongst the Nations

Roman Talikowski showed enormous courage and determination to save his friends, Jewish Polish citizens who lived under perilous circumstances.

Perhaps the greatest act of courage is the willingness to take action when the intolerance, the hatred and the oppression have been mindlessly accepted by the masses.

In our ACT Jewish Community, we have Holocaust survivors, children and grandchildren of survivors too.

Many of our founding families were survivors or refugees from Europe who arrived in Australia just before or after the Second World War.

Our Burning Bush sculpture on the outside of the ACT Jewish Community Centre is the creation of a Holocaust survivor, the late Izzy Kingsberg.

This Burning Bush sculpture, which also takes the form of a menorah, is a symbol for European Jewry, that it burned but was not consumed.

We hold that is absolutely essential that we remember the stories that our parents and grandparents told us or wrote down. We must not forget.

We may not be able to prevent history from recurring, but learning from history is what we must do in the hope that we can or might be able to prevent some of the terrible trends of history from repeating themselves.

Part of this process of learning from history is to remember and honour the heroes and heroines who acted with such courage. They provide role models now and in the future. This is how we can learn from history. It is these personal stories that give us hope and faith in a bright future free of oppression.

Thank you Roman Talikowski for your inspirational actions.”

Mr Talikowski’s name will be inscribed on the Wall of Honour in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

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