COMMEMORATION TO HONOR FAMILY WHO HID JEWS DURING WWII
On April 16, 2015, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Museum of Tolerance held their annual Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemoration. The ceremony took place at the Museum of Tolerance.
As part of the program, representatives from Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum bestowed a posthumous Righteous Among Nations Award to Louis and Maria Gruber of Budapest, Hungary. The award was given by the Honorable David Siegel, Consul General of Israel. Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance gave a commemorative address.
The story of the Gruber’s is reported by Yad Vashem, the museum whose Righteous Among Nations program acknowledges non-Jews whose, “rescue of Jews took many forms and required varying degrees of involvement and self-sacrifice. The title of the Righteous is reserved for the smaller group of those who actively risked their lives or their liberty for the express purpose of saving Jews from persecution and murder.” Still today, many of the rescuers stories remain unknown. For those who are discovered, the Yad Vashem Law authorizes Yad Vashem “to confer honorary citizenship of the State of Israel upon the Righteous Among the Nations, and commemorative citizenship if they have passed away, in recognition of their actions.”
In late October 1944, as thousands of Hungarian Jews were being sent to Auschwitz, the Grubers were a family who chose to save lives. Research by Yad Vashem brought the story to light. The Grubers decided to help their close friends, the Spitz family, and they took them to a basement factory in their building and created a secret apartment in one of the storage areas. “They were able to hide us in such way that even their children did not we were there,” remembered Luis Spitz, now living outside Chicago. Louis and Maria Gruber were fully aware that hiding the Spitz family meant certain death by the Nazis if they were caught, yet they continued to keep them safe until the liberation of Budapest.
Louis and Maria’s children, now live in Los Angeles, and accepted the award on behalf of their parents.
To mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII, the program also included recognition of WWII veterans who fled Nazi Germany and joined the U.S. Armed Forces. This was followed by a ribbon cutting of the Human Element Project’s “Memory Reconstruction”, an installation created by artist Lori Shocket and 129 Holocaust survivors and their families.
Finally, there was a performance by the Jewish Community Children’s Choir under the musical direction of Dr. Michelle Green Willner and featuring Cantor Marcus Feldman.