PR dla Zagranicy
Polish Janina Garbień has been awarded Yad Vashem's Righteous Among the Nations medal for help saving a Jewish child during the Holocaust.
Her mother, Kazimiera Jasik, and sisters Maria Miłaszewicz and Helena Krawczyk-Demczuk received the prize posthumously.
The Israeli ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, said it was rare to give the prize to a living recipient, and even more rarely that the person who had saved them was still alive.
Azari said that Garbień and her relatives were heroes, adding that risking one's own life to save another was "exceptional."
The four Polish women rescued Larissa Cain, who was then 7 and Larissa Sztorchan was called when the Second World War began in 1939. She escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and found shelter in a number of houses, including the Jasik household.
The family introduced Larissa as a nephew who had come from nearby Siedlce.
Janina Garbień remembers that the family sewed the girl a dress from a folding screen that they disassembled for their material.
One of Garbień's sisters also arranged a fake birth certificate with a Polish name for the Jewish girl.
"Unfortunately Larissa could not stay with us for long because the wall of the ghetto went through our garden" and it was heavily guarded, Garbień said.
"We all risked death, of course, to protect her, but it was important for us to save the life of a child," she added.
Cain said Helena had treated her as a younger sister.
She said that, despite the fact that she had not stayed with the Jasik family for long, she received so much affection nowhere else.
The title "Righteous among the Nations", the highest Israeli civil distinction, has been awarded by the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem since 1963 to those who helped the Jews during the Second World War.
About 3.3 million Jews lived on Polish territory at the outbreak of the Second World War. Poland is the largest national group among the righteous among the nations. (Vb)