“I owe my life to a Berlin family”: Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony Honors Those who Saved Lives During Holocaust
In 1937, Elisabeth Joseph, an educated Jewish girl from Berlin, was 14 years old when Hitler prohibited school attendance for Jews. Henceforward, she and her brother were forced to work in the Siemens-Halske factory instead of going to school. One evening, when they came back from work, they found their apartment sealed by the Gestapo. A notice on the door called them to report to the detention center. They decided to hide. Soon after that, Elisabeth’s brother disappeared. She never saw him again, and kept hiding all by herself. One day, when she was on one of her walks through Berlin, she heard someone calling her name out of the blue. It was Eva Cassirer, a girl she knew from school, who invited her to come to her house. Eva’s mother, Hannah Sotschek, knew that Elisabeth’s parents had been deported and agreed to help her without hesitation. In the guise of a maid, Elisabeth lived in the Sotschek’s house for more than two years. After the war, Elisabeth married Ernst Joseph, who had survived the war thanks to the help of another German family.
Mrs. Joseph’s story, told by the survivor herself, is one out of five moving testimonies that were given during a solemn and moving award presentation ceremony for the Righteous Among the Nations on Thursday, May 10, at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU.
A total of nine people of German, Dutch, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Russian descent were honored during this ceremony in the presence of the Consuls of their respective countries. These nine people received the title of Righteous Amongst the Nations, which was created in 1963, along with Yad Vashem, the Holocaust martyrs’ and heroes remembrance authority of the state of Israel, in order to honor the selfless and courageous few who saved Jewish lives amidst the Holocaust.
Enlarge image (© GKNY) Consul Elmar Jakobs participated in the event on behalf of the German Consulate of New York and expressed his gratitude and admiration to the awarded Righteous. He also thanked the Holocaust survivors, especially Elisabeth Joseph, for telling their stories and thus "passing on their authentic experiences, their powerful admonitions to future generations."
The event was organised by the Consulate General of Israel in New York as well as the American Society of Yad Vashem.