Sunday, 23 February 2020

Israel awards Czechoslovak priest in memoriam for saving Jews

ČTK |
28 February 2018

Prague, Feb 27 (CTK) - The Israeli Ambassador to Prague, Daniel Meron, bestowed the Righteous Among the Nations Title in memoriam on Czechoslovak Evangelical priest Vaclav Cermak on Tuesday for his saving of Jews during the period of Holocaust.

At a ceremony in Prague's New Town Hall, the award was received by Cermak's daughter.

Her father helped two Jewish families in the wartime Nazi-controlled Slovak state, regardless of the risk it meant for him and his own family.

"My father was a progressive man, a great patriot, a member of the [anti-Nazi] resistance movement, who helped all suffering people, those persecuted either politically or over their race, and who did it out of love and his duty as a Christian," Marie Cermakova said.

Vaclav Cermak became the 117th Czech or Czechoslovak to be awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title by the State of Israel.

Ambassador Meron said stories like Cermak's show that a glimmer of hope always exists even in hard moments. Cermak could decide differently, but he decided to help two families. His decision sets an example for others to follow, Meron said.

The event, for which Cermak was awarded along with two Slovaks, Ludovit Repas and Jan Balciar, occurred during the anti-Nazi Slovak National Uprising in 1944.

Then persecution of Jews and resistance members forced two Jewish families, the Weisenbergers and Schoenfelds, to leave their homes in Presov, east Slovakia. Repas, an official at the Presov town hall, secured false identity documents for them and sent them to Cermak, a priest, who helped hide the two families, first in various Slovak towns. Later all of them, including Repas, Balciar and his pregnant wife, reached a mountain chalet where another Jewish woman joined them and where all survived until the end of the war.

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