Certificates for Czechs Who Saved Jews Found After 46 Years
A box of documents covered with dust, which belonged to the Israeli Embassy in Prague and was discovered accidentally 46 years later, contains a historical memory which may allow the State of Israel to honor Czech citizens who saved Jews during the Holocaust and have yet to be officially recognized.
Shahar Shelef, the deputy Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic, received a phone call from a diplomat serving at the Swedish Embassy in Prague several weeks ago.
"You're not going to believe this," the Swedish diplomat told him. "We were organizing the embassy and decided to clean up the cellars. We found an old cardboard box with papers of the Israeli Embassy from 1967. You may come and take it."
An inquiry revealed that in 1967, after Czechoslovakia severed its diplomatic relations with Israel, the Israeli Embassy staff placed some of the diplomatic paperwork inside a cardboard box at the Swedish embassy. The box was placed in the basement, only to be discovered there 46 years later.
Among the pile of administrative documents were three Righteous Among the Nations certificates on behalf of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, which were to be handed out along with medals, in an official ceremony, to three Czech citizens who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
As they had to leave in a rush, the Israeli Embassy staff did not have time to deliver the certificates, and they were buried in the basement of the Swedish Embassy.
Upon receiving the box of documents, the Israeli Embassy contacted Yad Vashem and received verification that those three Czech citizens had indeed been registered as Righteous Gentiles.
The son of one of the three Czechs, who lives in Canada, had received a copy of the medal from the Israeli Consulate in Montreal many years ago. The other two have yet to be contacted.
"We know that the three Righteous Gentiles are no longer alive," says Shelef. "We will do everything in our power to see their offspring receive the official recognition of the State of Israel, even if 46 years too late."