Family who saved Roman Polański from Holocaust honoured as Righteous Among the Nations
A descendent of the family that saved Roman Polański from death in the Holocaust will accept a medal on their behalf as Righteous Among the Nations, a prestigious honour given to those who saved Jews during the war.
The Oscar-winning director is expected to travel to Poland for the award ceremony next week, which will see the medal presented to Stanisław, the grandson of Stefania and Jan Buchała, at the Israeli embassy in Warsaw.
Polański had testified to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem on how the peasant couple from the village of Wysoka, about 30 kilometres from Kraków, had taken him after he had escaped along with his father from the Kraków Ghetto in 1943.
In his emotional testimony Polański, who was 10 at the time of his escape from the ghetto, poured particular praise on Stefania, who risked everything to protect him.
“Stefania Buchała gave me shelter, despite risking not only her life but those of her family,” he said. “She was a sensitive and gentle hard-working woman.
By taking in the young Polański the Buchała family were courting death. Under regulations issued by the occupying German forces, any Pole found to be harbouring or aiding Jews could be executed, along with their immediate family or even the entire community.
Harbouring Polański also meant that what little food the family of five possessed had to go a little bit further.
After the war Polański returned twice to Wysoka hoping to find the couple that had saved his life but they had disappeared without trace.
It was only due to the efforts of film makers Anna Kokoszka-Romer and Mateusz Kudła, who were working on a film exploring Polański’s childhood, that Stanisław, the couple’s grandson, was tracked down.
According to Kudła, Stanisław had no idea that his grandparents had hidden Polański.