The Shmooze

Polish President Honors Survivor Sigmund Rolat

By Masha Leon

  • Print
  • Share Share

“Not every Pole is an anti-Semite and not every Jew is anti-Polish, “ has long been the mantra of Czestochowa-born Holocaust survivor Sigmund Rolat, an orphan and survivor of a Nazi slave-labor camp in Czestochowa who in 1948 arrived in New York City as a penniless teenager. On September 23, he was honored at a special ceremony hosted by Consul General Ewa Junczyk Ziomecka at New York’s Polish consulate.

A businessman extraordinaire, philanthropist and major financial backer of The Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Rolat was presented with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Poland’s president Bronislaw Komorowski.

Karen Leon
Sigmund Rolat and President Bronislaw Komorowski

“It is an honor to be decorated by President Bronislaw Komorowski with others, who as myself, emigrated from Poland — but never really abandoned her,” Rolat said. “Life decided that we leave, in all cases dramatically — war, Holocaust, then Communist enslavement. But our hearts remained there — mine in Czestochowa where I was born…There were our homes, our families…there today are graves of our ancestors.”

The gathering of Poles and Jews at the ceremony included past medal recipients Cantor Joseph Malovany, David Marwell, director and CEO of The Museum of Jewish Heritage — a Living Memorial to the Holocaust, as well as this Warsaw-born columnist.

Rolat — who on other occasions stated that “Poland as a nation was also a victim of the Nazis — No other country has a larger list of Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem than Poland”— announced, that shortly an international committee will be formed to build a monument to express gratitude to those Poles who saved Jews from death during the Holocaust.” In his address, President Komorowski touted the proposed monument in memory of Poles helping Jews as “making a difference between Polish-American relations, Polish-Jewish relations and Polish-Polish relations.”

On a personal note, my mother and I owe our survival to a Polish peasant woman who risked her life and that of her family to hide us in her hut in the shadow of a Nazi patrol booth, yet refused a reward of any sort stating, “It is my Christian duty.” Benjamin Meed, co-founder of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors once told me that “it took ten Poles to hide one Jew” a statistic that his wife Vladka Meed— who had been a weapons smuggler into the Warsaw ghetto and courier between the Polish Underground and the Warsaw ghetto fighters — concurred during one of our conversations.

Schepping nakhas were Rolat’s son Geoffrey Rolat, daughter Samantha Rolat Asulin, and his grandson Henry Asulin.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: sigmund rolat, poland, jewish, holocaust

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.