In September of 2016, we nominated the members of the Stys family who were alive during the war, to be awarded the Yad Vashem title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Last week I received the following e-mail:

Dear Karen,

The Commission bestowed the title on Helena & Aleksander Stys as well as Janina, Leokadia and Antoni.

The formal letters will hopefully reach you soon. It takes about 2-3 months to prepare the awards, and it will be the embassy that will contact the Stys family and you to coordinate the ceremony. As for the date, it depends on the embassy and the other Righteous ceremonies they have to organize. Just to give you an idea, in 2016 Yad Vashem honored close to 400 new Righteous from the different European countries.

The names of Stys will go online in the Righteous database when it is next updated in the beginning of April.

All the best,


That’s it -the decision has been made – The Stys name will be listed among the Yad Vashem Righteous.   I am thrilled.

But, I am also sad.  While Helena and Aleksander’s family will receive the title, Edward, Wladyslawa and Stanislaw (and children) will not.

You may recall that there were three Stys brothers, Aleksander (married to Helena), Stanislaw (married to Wladyslawa) and Edward (single).  All assisted Sam, Esther and Chaim when they were hiding from the Nazis.  However, the Yad Vashem Commission has strict guidelines.  They rely on survivor testimony to make their decision.   [See blog post dated February 16, 2017, for details on process.]  In Sam’s two interviews and Esther’s one interview (which we sent to them), Helena is the only one mentioned.  So, Wladyslawa’s family and Edward will not be awarded the honorary title.

On Monday I called Grzegorz Maleszewski (grandson of Wladyslawa and Stanislaw) and told him about the decision.

“That is OK,” he responded, “our family’s reward is in meeting your family and in the book you are writing.”

So nice.

Well, Esther and I will be returning to Poland on April 19th  for a five day visit (stay tuned for blog posts from Poland).  We will visit the Stys family members and of course we will visit Janina’s grave.  I will let her know that she and her family are forever known as Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem.   And though it is only the Helena Stys family that will be listed at Yad Vashem, in my mind and in the mind of anyone who reads my blog or will read my book, the honor is to the entire Stys family.

May they all be blessed.

Photo at Top:  “Torah” – a cast iron sculpture by Marcelle Elfenbein Swergold at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo by:  Adam Jones, Phd.




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