web analytics
November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Aging Rescuers of Holocaust Survivors Paid Debt of Gratitude

Czeslaw Polziec and Leon Gersten meet together for first time since 1944.

Czeslaw Polziec and Leon Gersten meet together for first time since 1944.
Photo Credit: ewish Foundation for the Righteous

Thousands of non-Jews from across Europe and Eastern Europe saved Jewish lives from the horrors of the Holocaust, placing their lives and the lives of their families at risk. Over 25,000 known non-Jews have been recognized by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among the Nations” including Christians and Muslims.

Today many of these rescuers are aging and living in poverty. The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous (JFR) founded by American Rabbi Harold Schulweis in 1986 is one non-profit organization that seeks to repay the debt of gratitude by providing financial support to those non-Jewish rescuers in need.

JFR provides on-going monthly financial assistance to 654 rescuers in 22 countries to pay for food, housing and medical expenses. The rescuers are often reluctant to ask for help, having acted without expecting a reward then or now according to the organization’s website. One of those recipients is Czeslaw Polziec, whose family took in a Jewish family and hid them for two years on their farm in Zawadka, Poland. This past Chanukah, JFR reunited Czeslaw Polziec with a member of the Jewish family that his parents rescued, Dr. Leon Gersten of Cedarhurst, New York.

Leon Gersten grew up in the Jewish shtetl of Frysztak, Poland. His mother, Frieda Tepper Gersten was a peddler who traveled throughout southern Poland to support her family. Her parents, Yitzchak and Necha Tepper raised Leon.

Gersten recalls how on Rosh Hashana in 1939, all the Jews of his community were praying in the shtetl synagogue, when the Germans surrounded the building and started shooting. “We all laid down on the floor and started praying Shema Yisrael. After killing a few Jews, they let us out – that was our first introduction to the Germans,” remembers Gersten.

“It’s one thing to kill a few people, it’s another to kill everybody, where every Jewish soul, every baby was on the most wanted list,” says Gersten.

On July 1942, the Germans ordered all of Frysztak’s Jews to gather in the animal marketplace. Around 1,600 Jews were rounded up- mostly elderly and children – and taken outside of town, where they were killed and buried in a mass grave. Leon’s grandparents, Yitzchak and Necha, were among those murdered.

After the mass killing, Leon’ s mother, Frieda, went out to the countryside dressed up as a Polish Catholic woman to try and find someone to take in her family. She went to Polish families who had purchased goods from her, and although a number of homes turned her away, one couple, Maria and Stanislaw Polziec agreed to provide shelter for her family. Maria, a seamstress, and Staninslaw, a farmer, had five children and barely enough food for their own family, but they were willing to house the five desperate Jews.

For more than two years, Leon Gersten, his mother, Frieda, her sister and brother-in-law, Celia and Herman Wiesenfeld and their son Moshe, were kept hidden from the Nazi occupiers in the Polziecs’ attic.

The Polziecs also built an underground earthen bunker that they covered with a grain storage bin in case of a raid. One night, recalls Leon, German soldiers raided the farm. “We were very organized and ran down to the bunker but the German soldiers heard us. They suspected the Polziecs of hiding Jews and proceeded to beat Stanislaw who tried to tell them it was his children sleeping in the attic that had run down scared.”

“We could hear Stanislaw screaming and the cries from the Polziec family but not one of them said a word about us,” recalls Gersten. “There was one goal and that was to keep Frieda and her family safe until the Soviet Army arrived,” said Czeslaw, who was the oldest son in the family and responsible for bringing the Gerstens food and standing guard.

About the Author: Anav Silverman is a regular contributor to Tazpit News Agency.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “Aging Rescuers of Holocaust Survivors Paid Debt of Gratitude”

  1. Hallelujah , that’s how we should be , help one another

  2. ”What about the many ”Non-Jews” that played an important role?”

  3. Sounds like there will be more need for saviors in Ukraine.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Colleagues of the hanged Arab bus driver whose death continues to be referred to as murder despite autopsy finding of suicide. These are Arab drivers of Egged buses, claiming they suffer discrimination by Israelis.
Arab Pathologist Singing New Tune: Murder (By Jews) Not Suicide
Latest News Stories
Jonathan Pollard Protest in 2011

Bnei Akiva religious youth members joined forces with far left Meretz youth group members on July 4, 2011, to protest in front of the US Consulate in Israel, calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard. That was years ago, and as of today, Pollard has now spent 30 years in jail. Enough is enough.

Paul Goldenberg

The task force will aim at keeping Americans from joining ISIS and other radical Muslim murder gangs.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The cell that planned to kill Lieberman was only of several planning to kill PA official and Israelisץ

Colleagues of the hanged Arab bus driver whose death continues to be referred to as murder despite autopsy finding of suicide. These are Arab drivers of Egged buses, claiming they suffer discrimination by Israelis.

Arab pathologist who originally agreed with the findings of Arab bus driver’s autopsy showing suicide, now disagrees.

Secret Service officers arrested a woman with a gun while she was walking along the White House fence around 8:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at the same time President Barack Obama was addressing the country on the issue of immigration. The woman was identified as April Lenhart, 23, from Michigan. She was wearing a holster and […]

And we can already hear Obama and Kerry telling him not to upset Allah and thank God on the Temple Mount.

The 388 bus line from BeerSheva to Arad was attacked by rock throwing Arabs near Arad.

The IDF foiled a plot by a Hamas terror cell to fire an RPG rocket at the vehicle of Foreign Minister MK Avigdor Lieberman.

Three Palestinian Authority terrorists linked with Hamas planned to murder Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on his vehicle near his eastern Gush Etzion home, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) revealed Thursday night. It did not say exactly when it uncovered the plot but revealed that the assassination plan was […]

The Israel Law Center wins a landmark decision against the Palestinian Authority (PA) on behalf of 11 families of victims of terror.

Young Jewish women and a family come under attack from Arab elementary students hurling rocks in the Golan Heights.

Israel has agreed to cooperate with a UN board of inquiry appointed by Ban Ki-moon, probing UNRWA events in Gaza this summer.

A U.S. parole board has turned down a request for release by former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, now in his 30th year in prison.

Dmitri Diliani, a spokesperson for Fatah in Jerusalem and a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, had taken issue with Klein’s characterization of recent violence in Jerusalem as being instigated by the Palestinians.

Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews take part in a prayer of the Sigd holiday on the Armon Hanatziv Promenade overlooking Jerusalem on November 20, 2014. The prayer is performed by Ethiopian Jews every year to celebrate their community’s connection and commitment to Israel. About 80,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them came in massive […]

More Articles from Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency
Dov and Shula Sorotzkin

But even with the cloud of sadness that descended on Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, as the community mourned the gruesome murders and the bloodied synagogue, there was a spark of happiness felt – in the synagogue itself.

Thousands attend slain rabbis’ funerals; international community condemns terror attack

Police documents reveal that Hezbollah has been providing the Brazilian gang with weapons while also acting as intermediaries in the sale of explosives that the PCC stole from Paraguay.

“We promised to take care of the residents of southern Israel and we are keeping that promise,” emphasized Minister of the Economy, Naftali Bennett.

War of Words Between Bibi and Obama Drives Out Turnout of US Citizens in Israel

Second Israeli Fatality of Wednesday’s Palestinian Terror Attack Dies of Wounds

“We in Fatah are not ashamed to take responsibility for the heroic act he carried out today…”

The connection runs so deep, that the Arab villagers have alerted Efrat authorities against terror cells.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/aging-rescuers-of-holocaust-survivors-paid-debt-of-gratitude/2014/04/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: