Anniversary of the foundation of Żegota

4th December marks the 74th anniversary of the foundation of the Council to Aid Jews, operating under the code name of Żegota.

Wide zegota
Paweł Śpiewak

4th December marks the 74th anniversary of the foundation of the Council to Aid Jews, operating under the code name of Żegota, under the auspices of the Government Delegation for Poland. In German occupied Europe, it was the only organization saving Jews from the Holocaust.

The heads of the Council included Julian Grobelny from PPS-WRN, Tadeusz Rek (SL) and Leon Feiner (Bund), Adolf Berman from ŻKN served as general secretary, and its Treasurer was Ferdynand Arczyński, a member of the Polish Democratic Party. When the Council was constituted, also the Executive Committee was appointed and the following departments: housing, children (headed by Irena Sendler), local and medical.

The purpose of Żegota was clear. In a letter addressed to the government delegate for Poland we read: „The purpose of the Council is to come to the aid of Jews as victims of extermination by the occupier. The aid includes saving them from death, legalizing them, assigning them to rooms, providing them with financial benefits, when necessary, finding paid occupation, as basis for existence, to administer funds and distribute them — in one word, any sort of activity that can directly or indirectly be considered as a form of help.”

Żegota provided financial support to 4 thousand people. Furthermore, they obtained identity documents (about 50 thousand), looked for flats and hiding places for the ghetto escapees; if it was possible, they also tried to provide medical care. Thanks to Irena Sendler and her department, it was possible to take care of 2.5 thousand Jewish children, who escaped from the Warsaw ghetto.

Among the righteous who fought to save those condemned to the Holocaust were many writers and Catholic activists (Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, Władysław Bartoszewski), left-wing activists and representatives of Jewish political organizations.

They did something extraordinary for the hiding Jews and for Poland itself. They earned gratitude and deserve to be well remembered. They are the Righteous, the foundation of our world.

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