Franciszka and Hipolit Górscy

The Righteous from the Treblinka area – Franciszka and Hipolit Górscy

The inhabitants of Sokołów, Franciszka and Hipolit Górscy, who rescued two Jewish children during the war, were posthumously honoured in the Holocaust Museum in Skokie.

The ceremony in the American museum was organised on 9 November on the anniversary of the Kristallnacht, which was associated with the pogrom of Jews in Nazi Germany. The ceremony took place near the Wall of the Righteous. On that day, four new names of people who risked their lives to save the Jews during the war were added.

On the side of good

The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, USA, is an institution that teaches not only difficult history, but also tries to meet contemporary challenges. We meet at the Wall of the Righteous, a wall of hope and all that humanity has the best to offer, said Museum Director Rick Hirschhaut. We want to honour those people who had the courage to stand on the side of good and oppose evil.

On the wall of the Righteous there is the name of Franciszka and Hipolit Górski from Sokołów Podlaski. Had it not been for them, I and my sister, Irene Budkowski, we would not have survived, said Aaron Elster, who was saved by the Górski family.

No desire for profit

The Elster family ran a meat store in Sokołów at Rogowska Street. When the war broke out, the family’s situation deteriorated significantly. When it was already known that all Jews would be sent to the Treblinka camp, the Elsters decided to hand over their older daughter, Irena, to the care of the Górski family, who lived at Piękna Street (their house is still there today). During the liquidation of the ghetto, little Aaron also managed to escape and find shelter with the Górskis. The siblings were hiding in this house until the Russians entered the city.

For several years Elster tried to make the Yad Vashem Institute award the Górskis the Medal of the Righteous Among the Nations. The only problem was that his parents gave the Górski family money to keep Irena, but they weren’t interested in making a profit, convinces Elster. After all, they did not receive any money for saving me. Had it not been for them, I would certainly have died. Aaron Elster described his story in a book I still see her haunting eyes. During the ceremony he confessed that he would like the medal, which will be awarded to the Górski family, to be placed in the museum in Skokie. If it is not the original, which will probably stay in Poland, then at least its faithful copy.

Repaid debt

Franciszka and Hipolit Górscy did not have their own children. Finding relatives was therefore quite difficult. They even asked the Sokołów City Hall for help. Finally, it was possible to find a suitable person who could collect the medal awarded to the Górski. He is a teacher at one of the schools in Sokołów. Asking for a medal is my way of repaying the Górskis, says Elster. This is how I pay off my debt. After all, they saved my life.

Only Irene and Aaron survived the war. Their father and his younger sister, Sara, most probably died in Treblinka. The mother was murdered in Sokołów just before the Russians entered.

Katarzyna Markusz, Życie Siedleckie, No. 08/2010 dated 26.02. 2010.