Since 2021, May 14 has been marked as the Remembrance Day of Ukrainians who rescued Jews during World War II. This date was set by a special Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as a sign of respect for Ukrainian rescuers, their compassion and solidarity.
The title of the Righteous Among the Nations is awarded on behalf of the State of Israel under the Law on the Perpetuation of the Memory of Martyrs and Heroes (1953) to non-Jews, members of different nationalities and religions, who saved Jews from extermination in territories occupied by Hitler’s Germany and its allies. Yad Vashem Memorial Complex is collecting rescue stories. The award of this high title is the realization of one of the main tasks of Yad Vashem - on behalf of the State of Israel and Jewish people to express gratitude to those non-Jews who risked their own lives and the lives of their relatives to save Jews from genocide. According to certain criteria, the Public Commission, headed by a judge of the Supreme Court of Israel, awarded this high title to representatives of 51 countries. The Righteous Among the Nations of the world receive a medal and a certificate of honor, and their names are immortalized in Yad Vashem on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.
It should be emphasized that the conditions for the rescue of Jews in Ukraine differed from those that existed in other European countries, especially in the West Europe. According to the Nazi racial policy, Ukrainian rescuers of Jews faced the most severe punishment: the destruction of the rescuers themselves and their families. Even granting asylum to Jews threatened the death penalty. There are numerous cases of executions of locals for hiding Jews in many Ukrainian towns and villages.
Today, Ukraine ranks fourth in the world in the number of such heroes (after Poland, Holland and France). As of January 1, 2020, this award honors 2,659 people of various ethnic backgrounds who rescued Jews during the Holocaust and lived in modern Ukraine.
“Tkuma” Institute and Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” have been studying the history of Ukrainian rescuers for many years, resulting in international scientific conferences, seminars, round tables on this topic, publishing monographs, directories, journalism, memories of rescuers and rescued, which can be found on our website.
Together with the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration, “Tkuma” Institute in 2018–2019 implemented a program to name the streets of settlements in the region in honor of Ukrainians - the Righteous Among the Nations. Thanks to this project, 14 streets appeared on the map of our region in 13 settlements, in particular in the city of Dnipro - 2.
In cooperation with the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory, “Tkuma” Institute and Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” have been implementing the Ukrainians-Rescuers project for the past three years. Marathon of Stories (“Portraits UA”), created to record and publish as many stories of rescue and the names of the Righteous Among the Nations. Together with the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, this year launched a digital project “Righteous Among the Nations. Ukraine”.