Recognised by honorary award

The number of Belarusians acknowledged in the ‘Righteous of All Nations’ award has risen to 799

The number of Belarusians acknowledged in the ‘Righteous of All Nations’ award has risen to 799. During the recent solemn ceremony — hosted by Minsk’s Great Patriotic War History Museum on International Holocaust Remembrance Day — another seven Belarusians joined the list posthumously. The awards were presented by the Deputy Mission Head and the First Secretary of Israel’s Embassy to Belarus — Yulia Rachinski-Spivakov.

The Righteous of All Nations award goes to people who saved Jews during WWII, with risk to their lives. Among its holders are the leatherworker Yefim Rusetsky and his wife Yulia who lived in Kossovo, where an open Jewish ghetto was situated during the occupation. At the start of the war, the family sheltered 28 Jews; mostly workers of Yefim’s leather-making workshop, as well as their relatives. Sometime later, Yefim, Yulia and their three children were killed along with a Jewish family then staying at their house. The Rusetskys’ grand-niece, Olga Bondar, received the honourable award on behalf of her relatives. Natalia and Victor Shuneiko were also named amongst the Righteous of All Nations. During a massacre in Minsk’s ghetto, they sheltered the Rubenchik family and, later, helped them to join the partisans. Their daughter, Yelena Lomako, came to receive the awards. Maria, Andrey and Iosif Krasovskis are now also on the list. Early in the war, Maria managed to save the young Jewish girl Margarita Dobrushkina (who worked in her house). The Krasovskis’ granddaughter, Raisa Dubrova, received the award on behalf of the family.

The Chairman of the Belarusian Jewish Group of Public Associations and Communities, Boris Gersten, warmly thanked all those who ‘saved Jews while risking their lives and the lives of their children’ during the war years. He also expressed gratitude to those relatives who keep the memory of them alive, as well as the State of Israel which recognises these people. The names of all the heroes are engraved on a wall of the Yad Vashem World Centre for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration, in Jerusalem. A tree is planted in its grounds to honour each one of them.

By Zakhar Shcherbakov 

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