Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust

Rudolf Weigl, Polish Righteous whose vaccines, smuggled into the Lwów and Warsaw Ghettos, saved countless Jewish lives.
The Król family of Polish Righteous west of Nowy Sącz Ghetto hid Jewish friends in the attic for three years. In close proximity, the Germans carried out mass executions of civilians.
The wall of the ghetto in Warsaw, being constructed by Nazi German order in August 1940
Public execution of Michał Kruk and several other ethnic Poles in Przemyśl as punishment for helping Jews, 1943
Underground Biuletyn Informacyjny announcing death sentence by Kedyw and the execution of named individuals who blackmailed Polish villagers hiding Jews, July 1943.
Announcement of death penalty for Jews captured outside the Ghetto and for Poles helping Jews
Irena Sendler smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto to safety.
Żegota members at 3rd anniversary of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Poland
Mother Matylda Getter rescued between 250 and 550 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto.
Polish priest Marceli Godlewski was recognized as Righteous among the Nations in 2009.
Holocaust resistor Witold Pilecki
Last page "Raczyński's Note" - official note of Polish government-in-exile to Anthony Eden 10 December 1942.
Diplomat Henryk Sławik helped save Jews with false Polish passports.
Clandestine poster warning of death penalty for blackmailing and turning in Jews, Żegota 1943.

Polish Jews were the primary victims of the German-organized Holocaust in Poland.

- Rescue of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust

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History of the Jews in Poland

The history of the Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years.

Reception of Jews in Poland, by Jan Matejko, 1889
Early-medieval Polish coins with Hebrew inscriptions
Casimir the Great and the Jews, by Wojciech Gerson, 1874
Casimir IV Jagiellon confirmed and extended Jewish charters in the second half of the 15th century
Sigismund II Augustus followed his father's tolerant policy and also granted autonomy to the Jews.
Number of Jews in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth per voivodeship in 1764
A Polish Jew in an engraving from 1703
Late-Renaissance synagogue, Zamość, Poland, 1610–20
Jacob Frank
Jewish dress in 17th (top) and 18th centuries
Berek Joselewicz (1764–1809)
Jewish merchants in 19th-century Warsaw
Map of Pale of Settlement, showing Jewish population densities
Caricature of Russian Army assailant in 1906 Białystok pogrom
A Bundist demonstration, 1917
Hasidic schoolchildren in Łódź, c. 1910s, during Partitions
Rabbi Baruch Steinberg before Warsaw Great Synagogue (1933), reading roll call of the fallen, organized by Union of Jewish Fighters for Polish Independence
Warsaw Great Synagogue
L. L. Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto
Isaac Bashevis Singer (Polish: Izaak Zynger), achieved international acclaim as a classic Jewish writer and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978
Shimon Peres, born in Poland as Szymon Perski, served as the ninth President of Israel between 2007 and 2014
Student's book (indeks) of Jewish medical student Marek Szapiro at Warsaw University, with rectangular "ghetto benches" ("odd-numbered-benches") stamp
Demonstration of Polish students demanding implementation of "ghetto benches" at Lwów Polytechnic (1937).
Graves of Jewish-Polish soldiers who died in 1939 September Campaign, Powązki Cemetery
Yiddish election notice for Soviet local government to the People's council of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in Białystok, occupied Poland.
Jewish-Polish soldier's grave, Monte Cassino, Italy
Map of the Holocaust in Poland under German occupation.
Starving Jewish children, Warsaw Ghetto
Jewish Ghettos in German-occupied Poland and Eastern Europe
Walling-off Świętokrzyska Street (seen from Marszałkowska Street on the "Aryan side")
Announcement of death penalty for Jews captured outside the Ghetto and for Poles helping Jews, November 1941
Janusz Korczak's orphanage
Ghetto fighters memorial in Warsaw built in 1948 by sculptor Nathan Rapoport
Deportation to Treblinka at the Umschlagplatz
The cover page of The Stroop Report with International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg markings.
34 Mordechaj Anielewicz Street, Warsaw, Poland
Freed prisoners of Gęsiówka and the Szare Szeregi fighters after the liberation of the camp in August 1944
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 saw the destruction of what remained of the Ghetto
Page from a register of several hundred Jewish survivors who returned to Oświęcim after the war; created by a local Jewish Committee in 1945. Most remained for only a brief period.
Chief Rabbi of Poland – Michael Schudrich
Lesko Synagogue, Poland
Reform Beit Warszawa Synagogue
2005 March of the Living
President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, 26 June 2007
"Shalom in Szeroka Street", the final concert of the 15th Jewish Festival

Examples of Polish attitudes to German atrocities varied widely, from actively risking death in order to save Jewish lives, and passive refusal to inform on them, to indifference, blackmail, and in extreme cases, participation in pogroms such as the Jedwabne pogrom.

Polish Righteous Among the Nations

The citizens of Poland have the world's highest count of individuals who have been recognized by Yad Vashem of Jerusalem as the Polish Righteous Among the Nations, for saving Jews from extermination during the Holocaust in World War II.


 the Sheltering of Escaping Jews.

There is a need for a reminder, that in accordance with paragraph 3 of the decree of 15 October 1941, on the Limitation of Residence in the General Government (page 595 of the GG Register) Jews leaving the Jewish Quarter without permission will incur the death penalty.

According to this decree, those knowingly helping these Jews by providing shelter, supplying food, or selling them foodstuffs are also subject to the death penalty.

This is a categorical warning to the non-Jewish population against:

 1) Providing shelter to Jews,

 2) Supplying them with Food,

 3) Selling them Foodstuffs.

Częstochowa 24/9/42
 '''Der Stadthauptmann
Dr. Franke'''

In numerous instances, Jews were saved by entire communities, with everyone engaged, such as in the villages of Markowa and Głuchów near Łańcut, Główne, Ozorków, Borkowo near Sierpc, Dąbrowica near Ulanów, in Głupianka near Otwock, Teresin near Chełm, Rudka, Jedlanka, Makoszka, Tyśmienica, and Bójki in Parczew-Ostrów Lubelski area, and Mętów, near Głusk.


Town in south-eastern Poland, with 18,004 inhabitants, as of 2 June 2009.

Drużyna coat of arms of the Lubomirski family above the main entrance to the castle
Lubomirski Castle with the orangery in the foreground in the 1810s
Railway station
Town hall
Castle interior
Statue of Bacchus in the castle park
Old Dominican monastery and church
Parish Church

The Germans executed several Poles in the town for rescuing Jews, while at least one Polish man managed to escape and survive.

Ukrainian Insurgent Army

Ukrainian nationalist paramilitary and later partisan formation.

Flag of the UPA
UPA propaganda poster. OUN/UPAs formal greeting is written in Ukrainian on two of the horizontal lines Glory to Ukraine- Glory to (her) Heroes. The soldier is standing on the banners of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
World War II-era monument in memory of UPA fighters with inscription "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!", in place of the Janowa Dolina massacre, Bazaltove, Ukraine
UPA Commanders left to right: Oleksander Stepchuk, Ivan Klimchak, Nikon Semeniuk 1941–1942
Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft battalion photographed in 1942
Polish victims of a massacre committed by UPA in the village of Lipniki, 1943
Monument to Poles killed by UPA, Liszna, Poland
Westward shift of Poland after World War II. The respective German, Polish and Ukrainian populations were expelled.
Christmas card made and distributed by the UPA, 1945
Roman Shukhevych, the leader of the UPA
Ukrainian Insurgent Army, September 1944 Instruction abstract. Text in Ukrainian: "Jewish question" – "No actions against Jews to be taken. Jewish issue is no longer a problem (only few of them remain). This does not apply to those who stand out against us actively."
March of UPA veterans through Przemyśl
Ultras of FC Karpaty Lviv and FC Dynamo Kyiv wave the UPA flag in May 2011
Ukrainian postage stamp honoring Roman Shukhevych on 100th anniversary (2007) of his birth.
Golden Cross "25th anniversary of UPA" of (1967)
Cross of Combat Merit
The rally on European Square in Kyiv, 24 November 2013
Headquarters of the Euromaidan. At the front entrance there is a portrait of Stepan Bandera, a 20th century Ukrainian nationalist.
Monument to UPA veterans at St. Volodymyr Cemetery, Oakville, Ontario
Monument to soldiers of UPA, Skole, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine
Cemetery of UPA soldiers, Antonivci, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine
Monument to the soldiers of UPA, Berezhany, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine
Monument to senior UPA commander Dmytro Klyachkivsky near Orzhiv, Ukraine
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other UPA graves in the Ukrainian Orthodox Cemetery in South Bound Brook, New Jersey
Memorial for UPA soldiers, Kharkiv, Ukraine
Monument to Polish soldiers killed by UPA in Jasiel, south-eastern Poland, in 1946, Poland
Monument to the Polish victims of UPA in Kłodzko, Poland
Wołyń 1943 (exhibition), Sanok, Poland
Monument to the Polish victims killed by UPA, Borownica, Podkarpackie Voivodeship, Poland
Monument to Polish border guards who fell 1945–1947 fighting with UPA in Sanok, Poland
Monument in Warsaw, Poland

Nevertheless, Jews hiding from the Germans with Poles in Polish villages were often killed by UPA along with their Polish saviors, although in at least one case, they were spared as the Poles were murdered.

Kraków Ghetto

One of five major metropolitan Nazi ghettos created by Germany in the new General Government territory during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.

Jews forced to shovel snow from the street

A Jewish Holocaust survivor from Kraków, Maria Błeszyńska née Bernstein, attempted to save Zakulski's life in gratitude for his rescue of her and her daughter during the Holocaust; however, she was unsuccessful.

Władysław Bartoszewski

Polish politician, social activist, journalist, writer and historian.

The third anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the official gathering at the Polish Theatre in Warsaw, April 1946. On stage, among others, the activists of Żegota. Bartoszewski is sitting on the third right
Bartoszewski (right, background) with Bronisław Geremek (left, background), 1997

Żegota, a Polish World War II resistance organization whose objective was to help Jews during the Holocaust, operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Delegatura, its presence in Warsaw.


City in southeastern Poland with 60,442 inhabitants, as of June 2020.

Foundations of a Lendian gord, and of a Latin rotunda chapel and palatium complex built by Bolesław I the Brave of Poland in the 11th century, along with an Orthodox tserkva built in the 12th century.
Przemyśl Castle built by king Casimir III the Great of Poland in 1340
Early 17th century graphic depicting Przemyśl during the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth era.
Crowds outside the Old Synagogue in Przemyśl
Monument to the Przemyśl Eaglets first erected in 1938
Aerial view of the Przemyśl Cathedral
Przemyśl Główny railway station train station built in 1895
Lubomirski Palace in Przemyśl

The local branches of the Polish underground and the Żegota managed to save 415 Jews.

General Government

German zone of occupation established after the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, Slovakia and the Soviet Union in 1939 at the onset of World War II.

The General Government in 1942
Hans Frank, head of the General Government, at a police parade in Kraków during the German occupation of Poland
The General Government in 1942
German-Soviet border drawn in the aftermath of the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland, signed in Moscow by Stalin and Ribbentrop during the Second Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact known as the Frontier Treaty of September 28, 1939
Orange and yellow areas of former Austrian part after Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Union in 1795 roughly correspond with Generalgouvernement
Official proclamation of the General-Government in Poland by Germany, October 1939
Hans Frank with district administrators in 1942 – from left: Ernst Kundt, Ludwig Fischer, Hans Frank, Otto Wächter, Ernst Zörner, Richard Wendler
Announcement of the execution of 60 Polish hostages and a list of 40 new hostages taken by Nazi authorities in Poland, 1943
Part of Hans Frank's ordinance from 31 October 1939 on "counteracting the acts of violence in the General Government"
Nazi anti-semitic propaganda poster
German Polish-language recruitment poster: "'Let's do farm work in Germany!' See your wójt at once."
Ujazdów Avenue Public execution memorial table, Warsaw
Administrative map of the General Government, July 1940 (before Barbarossa)
Administrative map of the General Government, July 1941 – January 1944 following Barbarossa
So-called "Góral"- 500 złoty banknote used in the territories of the GG
Flag of the Home Army
German announcement of the execution of 9 Polish peasants for unfurnished contingents (quotas). Signed by the governor of Lublin district on 25 November 1941
Nazi extermination camps in occupied Poland, marked with black and white skulls. General Government in beige. Death camp at Auschwitz (lower left) in the neighbouring new German Provinz Oberschlesien
The wall of the Warsaw Ghetto being built under the orders of Dr. Ludwig
The Warsaw Ghetto (1940-1943)
Announcement by the Chief of SS and Police 5.09.1942—Death penalty for Poles offering any help to Jews
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 1943: Jews being held at gunpoint by SS troops (from a report written by Jürgen Stroop for Heinrich Himmler)
Polish inmates of Pawiak prison hanged by Germans in Leszno Street, Warsaw, February 11, 1944 (photo taken secretly from tram by a member of the Polish Home Army)
Warsaw Uprising: Polish soldiers in action, August 1, 1944
Polish civilians murdered by SS troops during the Warsaw Uprising, August 1944
Aerial view of the city of Warsaw, January 1945
Portrait of a Young Man by Raphael, stolen at the behest of Hans Frank in 1939 and never returned; one of over 40,000 works of art robbed from Polish collections
Polish hostages being blindfolded during preparations for their mass execution in Palmiry, 1940
A mass execution of Poles in Bochnia, December 18, 1939
The Warsaw Uprising, 1944

The existence of Sonderdienst constituted a grave danger for the non-Jewish Poles who attempted to help ghettoised Jews in the cities, as in the Mińsk Mazowiecki Ghetto among numerous others, because Christian Poles were executed under the charge of aiding Jews.


Ninth-largest city in Poland and the second-largest city of historical Lesser Poland.

Krakowska Gate in the Old Town is among the city's most recognisable landmarks.
Union of Lublin, painting by Jan Matejko at the National Museum of Lublin
19th-century drawing of the Lublin Old Town by Adam Lerue
German and Soviet troops in Lublin during the invasion of Poland in September 1939
Monument and cemetery in Rury where the Germans massacred around 500 Poles in 1940
The site of the former Majdanek concentration camp, located on the outskirts of Lublin
Marie Curie Monument near the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University (UMCS
Polish MPs in the PZL Świdnik helicopter factory
Perła – Browary Lubelskie
Lublin Airport
Lublin Główny railway station, the city's main train station
Lublin has one of three trolleybus systems in Poland
The Centre for the Meeting of Cultures and Teatralny Square, view from the Lublin Conference Center
National Museum in Lublin
Old Theatre in Lublin, opening night
Crown Tribunal in the Old Town
Historic tenement houses at the Market Square
Litewski Square
Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of the main streets of the historic city center
Grand Hotel Lublinianka
Arena Lublin
Faculty of Biotechnology, KUL
Faculty of Information Technology, UMCS
Lublin City Hall
Stanisław Kostka Potocki
Józef Ignacy Kraszewski
Henryk Wieniawski
Juliusz Osterwa Theatre
Lublin Cathedral
Interior of the Cathedral
Trinitarian Tower
St. Stanislaus Basilica
Courtyard of the Dominican Abbey
UMCS Botanical Gardens
14th-century Holy Trinity Chapel
Frescoes inside the chapel
Grodzka Gate
A street fair in the Old Town
440th anniversary of the Union of Lublin
Birthplace of composer Henryk Wieniawski
House of poet Sebastian Klonowic
Zemborzyce Lake
Saints Peter and Paul church
Transfiguration church
The first part of a bypass road around Lublin
Radio & TV tower in Lublin

There are also known cases of local Polish men and women, who were captured and sent to either forced labour or concentration camps by the Germans for sheltering and aiding Jews.

Władysław Szpilman

Polish pianist and classical composer of Jewish descent.

House at al. Niepodległości 223 in Warsaw where in 1944 Szpilman met Wilm Hosenfeld
Commemorative plaque on the building
Photo of Szpilman, the most famous of Warsaw Robinsons, at the Warsaw Uprising Museum
Władysław Szpilman's grave in Powązki Military Cemetery in Warsaw

Despite the efforts of Szpilman and the Poles to rescue him, Hosenfeld died in a Soviet prisoner of war camp in 1952.