Righteous Among the Nations medals awarded in Warsaw

Wojciech Olkuśnink/PAP

Ten Poles and Polish families who helped rescue Jews during World War Two were posthumously awarded with Righteous Among the Nations medals at a ceremony at Warsaw's POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews on Wednesday.

Three Poles were presented with honorary citizenship of Israel, two were given posthumously and one was awarded in person to Irena Senderska-Rzonca, who at the award ceremony said that she was "honoured and moved" by receiving the distinction.

Speaking at the ceremony, Sejm Deputy Speaker Malgorzata Gosiewska said that the awardees had risked their own lives and the lives of their families in order to help Jews in danger. Poland was the only country where such actions were punishable by death by the Nazis. Gosiewska said that of the 27,000 medals awarded to date 7,000 had been awarded to Poles.

Israeli Ambassador to Poland Ben Zvi said that the Righteous Among the Nations medal was the only medal relating to World War II not to be awarded for active service, but for the saving of human life. Poles awarded with the medal are the common heroes of two nations - Poland and Israel.

The Righteous Among the Nations is a medal and honorary title awarded since 1963 by the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem Institute to people who helped Jews during World War II.