A principal’s moving initiative in Poland led to the commemoration of 87 Jewish girls expelled from school by the Nazis.
A school in Poland unveiled a plaque Tuesday commemorating 87 Jewish girls expelled in 1939 during the Nazi occupation of the country at the beginning of the Holocaust.
The event in Krakow is one in a growing number of efforts by teachers and children to commemorate the Jews who lived in Poland before the Holocaust.
The event was held to mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of the No. 2 middle school in Krakow, which before World War II was an all-girls school.
A Principal’s Moving Initiative
Lital Beer, director of Yad Vashem’s Reference and Information Services, said her researchers worked for nearly two years at the school’s request to determine the fate of the 87 girls. She said 21 students were murdered in the Holocaust and 24 survived, but the fate of the others remains undetermined.
Tracking girls was made more difficult because many of them changed their names more than once, first adopting Hebrew names if they settled in Israel, and then changing surnames again upon marriage. It was unclear if any of the girls are still alive.
The research project began nearly two years ago when principal Gabriela Olszowska contacted Yad Vashem after finding a trove of records that included a list of the 87 Jewish girls expelled on December 9, 1939, following orders from the German Nazi authorities.
Beer said Yad Vashem receives many requests for private research on individuals, and can rarely accommodate them, but gave special attention to this case.
“I was very moved by the principal’s initiative to research the girls and commemorate them,” Beer said. “We want to embrace those initiatives as much as we can.”
Zvia Fried, who conducted much of the research for Yad Vashem, took part in the ceremony, saying by phone from Krakow that it was “very moving” and included prayers led by a rabbi and a Roman Catholic priest.