The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has given a posthumous award to a Polish Catholic woman who risked her life to save 13 Jews during the Holocaust. Francisca Halamajowa, along with her daughter Helena, gave shelter to a group of Jewish men, women, and children
, whom they hid under the noses of invading German troops.The Jews were hidden in the hayloft of a pigsty and in a hole under the kitchen floor while German soldiers camped on the Halamajowa family farm. Had the soldiers found the Jews, they would have murdered their Polish protectors as well as the Jews themselves.
Francisca remained in Sokal, Poland even when her Polish neighbors fled Ukrainian pogroms, in order to care for the Jews she was sheltering.
The Jews who benefited from her actions; three men, five women, and five children had managed to flee the Sokal ghetto shortly before it was liquidated. The Jewish population of Sokal before the Holocaust was 6,000; only 30 survived, among them all 13 of those who sought refuge on Francisca Halamajowa’s farm.
Francisca Halamajowa died in 1960. She never shared the story of her bravery, even with her family.
“After the war, there was still enough fear and hostility that Francisca never told her story about how she had cared for and saved these Jewish individuals from certain death at the hands of the Nazis,” stated Abraham Foxman, head of the ADL. “Francisca’s granddaughters only learned the truth in full after they had moved to the United States decades later. But the Jewish families that were saved and their descendants knew the truth.”
One survivor’s diary inspired a 2009 film about Francisca and Helena, titled No. 4 Street of Our Lady.
“Francisca was one who had the courage to care,” Foxman stated as he presented the ADL award to her granddaughters Grace Kucharzyk and Jolanta Steron. “She upheld the honor of the human race and the conscience of the world.”
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