US News Israel pays tribute to the Poles who hid Polanski from the Nazis
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Israel pays tribute on Thursday to the Polish couple who had hidden the future during World War II. Franco-Polish director Roman Polanski, then a young child, announced the Yad Vashem Shoah memorial on Thursday.
Stefania and Jan Buchala are to receive, posthumously, the "Righteous Among the Nations" Medal awarded by Yad Vashem to those who helped save Jews during World War II, in a ceremony held on Thursday in southern Poland which, for security reasons, has been kept secret.
The medal will be given to their grandson. According to Polish media, Mr. Polanski could attend.
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"Despite their very difficult economic situation, the couple agreed to welcome the Jewish boy as their own son and protect him," said Yad Vashem.
Roman Polanski was only six years old when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, triggering World War II. The Polanski family was forced to settle in the Krakow ghetto.
Clandestinely left the ghetto, by the care of his father, little Roman passes from family to family before meeting with the Buchala.
Peasants, fervent Catholics with three young children, they lodged him for almost two years in the village of Wysoka, in southern Poland, without asking for anything in return.
For years Mr. Polanski had tried to find the Buchala family to thank them, to no avail.
The couple died in 1953 and no one in Wysoka village had heard from the children.
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It was only in 2017 that Roman Polanski was able to meet their grandson thanks to an investigation carried out by the team working on a documentary on childhood and the friendship between the filmmaker and photographer Ryszard Horowitz, him also a Holocaust survivor.
In his testimony to Yad Vashem, Mr. Polanski said: "Stefania Buchala provided me with shelter, risking her own life and that of her family".
The danger was enormous. In occupied Poland, offering Jews even a glass of water was punishable by death.
Poland, which lost six million citizens during the war - half of whom were Jews - has the largest number of "Righteous Among the Nations" of any country, over 7,000 people.
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