Righteous Among the Nations
Righteous among the Nations of the world's nations"), also translated as Righteous Gentiles is an honorific
An honorific is a word or expression with connotations conveying esteem or respect when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term is used not quite correctly to refer to an honorary title...

 used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 to save Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 from extermination by the Nazis
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...


The term originates with the concept of "righteous gentiles," a term used in rabbinical Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 to refer to non-Jews, as ger toshav
Ger toshav
Ger toshav , is a term used in Judaism to refer to a gentile who is a "resident alien", that is, one who lives in a Jewish state and has certain protections under Jewish law, and is considered a righteous gentile .-Definition:...

and ger zedek, who abide by the Seven Laws of Noah.


When Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

, the Holocaust Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953 by the Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

, one of its tasks was to commemorate the "Righteous among the Nations". The Righteous were defined as non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Since 1963, a commission headed by a justice of the Supreme Court of Israel
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

 has been charged with the duty of awarding the honorary title "Righteous among the Nations". The commission is guided in its work by certain criteria and meticulously studies all documentation, including evidence by survivors and other eyewitnesses; evaluates the historical circumstances and the element of risk to the rescuer; and then decides if the case accords with the criteria.

To be recognized as "Righteous", a person has to fulfill several criteria:
  • only a Jewish party can put a nomination forward;
  • helping a family member or Jewish convert to Christianity does not count;
  • the assistance has to be repeated and/or substantial; and
  • the assistance has to be given without any financial gain expected in return (although covering normal expenses such as rent or food are acceptable).

A person who is recognized as "Righteous among the Nations" for having taken risks to help Jews during the Holocaust is awarded a medal in his/her name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of having the name added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

 in Jerusalem. (The last is in lieu of a tree planting, which was discontinued for lack of space.) The awards are distributed to the rescuers or their next-of-kin during ceremonies in Israel, or in their countries of residence through the offices of Israel's diplomatic representatives. These ceremonies are attended by local government representatives and are given wide media coverage.

The Yad Vashem Law also authorizes Yad Vashem "to confer honorary citizenship upon the Righteous among the Nations, and if they have passed away, the commemorative citizenship of the State of Israel, in recognition of their actions." Anyone who has been recognized as Righteous among the Nations is entitled to apply to Yad Vashem for the certificate. If the Righteous among the Nations is no longer alive, their next of kin is entitled to request that commemorative citizenship be conferred on the Righteous among the Nations who has died. Recipients who choose to live in the state of Israel are entitled to a pension equal to the average national wage and free health care, as well as assistance with housing and nursing care.

As of 1 January 2011, 23,788 men and women from 45 countries have been recognized as Righteous among the Nations, representing over 10,000 authenticated rescue stories. Yad Vashem's policy is to pursue the program for as long as petitions for this title are received and are supported by solid evidence that meets the criteria.

Righteous Among the Nations by country and ethnic origin as of January 1, 2011

These figures are not necessarily an indication of the actual number of Jews saved in each country, but reflect material on rescue operations made available to Yad Vashem. See List of Righteous among the Nations by country for names of individuals.
Country of origin Awards Notes
6,266 Including Irena Sendler
Irena Sendler
Irena Sendler was a Polish Catholic social worker who served in the Polish Underground and the Żegota resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II...

 - Polish social worker who served in the Polish Underground
Polish resistance movement in World War II
The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

 and the Żegota
"Żegota" , also known as the "Konrad Żegota Committee", was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945....

 resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw
Warsaw is the capital and largest city of Poland. It is located on the Vistula River, roughly from the Baltic Sea and from the Carpathian Mountains. Its population in 2010 was estimated at 1,716,855 residents with a greater metropolitan area of 2,631,902 residents, making Warsaw the 10th most...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. She saved 2,500 Jewish children.
In German-occupied Poland
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

, all household members were punished by death if a Jew was found concealed in their home or property. Death was a punishment for providing any aid to a Jew, including giving bread or water to passing Jews. This was the most severe law enforced by the German Nazis in occupied Europe. See Polish Righteous among the Nations
Polish Righteous among the Nations
Polish citizens have the world's highest count of individuals awarded medals of Righteous among the Nations, given by the State of Israel to non-Jews who saved Jews from extermination during the Holocaust...

5,108 Includes two persons originally from Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 residing in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, people hiding Jews would usually be punished by either being sent to concentration camps or by being shot (usually after a "trial").
3,331 In January 2007, French President Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 and other dignitaries honored France's Righteous among the Nations in a ceremony at the Panthéon, Paris
Panthéon, Paris
The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens...

. The Legion of Honor was awarded to 160 French Righteous among the Nations for their efforts saving French Jews during World War II.
1,584 Including Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, née Duchess in Bavaria.
800 See Lithuanian Righteous among the Nations
Lithuanian Righteous among the Nations
This is the list of Lithuanian Righteous among the Nations. Over seven hundred Lithuanians have been honored with this title by the state of Israel for saving Jews during World War II, and the estimated number is up to one thousand * Adomynienė Ona, 1997...

, Kazys Binkis
Kazys Binkis
Kazys Binkis was a Lithuanian poet, journalist, and playwright. He used the pseudonyms K.Alijošius, K. Papilietis, Kazys, Kazys Roviejietis, Nedarbininkas, Neklaipėdietis, Nelatvis, Nepartyvis, Ras Desta, Riza Chanas and others.-Biography:...

, Ona Šimaitė
Ona Šimaite
Ona Šimaitė of Lithuania, a librarian at Vilnius University, used her position to aid and rescue Jews in the Vilna Ghetto.Entering the ghetto under the pretext of recovering library books from Jewish university students, she smuggled in food and small arms and other provisions and smuggled out...

764 Zoltan Bay, physicist; father of radar-astronomy, Béla Király
Béla Király
Dr. Béla Király was a Hungarian resistance fighter during World War II, as well as a military historian, author, and politician....

 , Géza Ottlik
Géza Ottlik
Géza Ottlik was a Hungarian writer, translator, mathematician, and bridge theorist.He attended the military school at Kőszeg and Budapest, and studied mathematics and physics at Budapest University 1931-1935. After a brief career on Hungarian radio, he was a secretary of Hungarian PEN Club from...

 author, Endre Szervánszky
Endre Szervánszky
Endre Szervánszky was a Hungarian composer.-Biography:...

498 Including Laura and Constantino Bulgari, Lorenzo Perrone
Lorenzo Perrone
Lorenzo Perrone was one of a group of skilled Italian bricklayers working under contract to the Boetti company, who were transferred to Auschwitz according to the camp expansion plan....

, and Giorgio Perlasca
Giorgio Perlasca
Giorgio Perlasca was an Italian who posed as the Spanish consul-general to Hungary in the winter of 1944, and saved thousands of Jews from Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.-Early life:...

495 Including Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German industrialist born in Moravia. He is credited with saving over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively.He is the subject of the...

, the businessman who saved over a thousand Jews by employing them in his factory; and Hans
Hans Scholl
Hans Fritz Scholl was a founding member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany.-Biography:...

 and Sophie Scholl
Sophie Scholl
Sophia Magdalena Scholl was a German student, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich with her brother Hans...

, sibling members
Geschwister Scholl
Die Geschwister Scholl refers to brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl, who were members of the White Rose, a student group in Munich that was active in the non-violent resistance movement in Nazi Germany, especially in distributing flyers against the war and the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler...

 of the White Rose
White Rose
The White Rose was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor...

 resistance movement; Captain Gustav Schröder
Gustav Schröder
Gustav Schröder was a sea captain, who is best known for attempting to save 937 German Jews, who were passengers on his ship, the , from the Nazis in 1939.-Voyage of the Damned:The story of the 1939 sailing of the MS St...

 who commanded the "Voyage of the Damned"; German army officer Wilm Hosenfeld
Wilm Hosenfeld
Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld , originally a teacher, was a German Army officer who rose to the rank of Hauptmann by the end of the war. He helped to hide or rescue several Poles, including Jews, in Nazi-occupied Poland, and is perhaps most remembered for helping Polish-Jewish pianist and composer...

; German army Major Karl Plagge
Karl Plagge
Major Karl Plagge was a German officer and Nazi Party member who during World War II used his position as a staff officer in the Heer to employ and protect some 1,240 Jews — 500 men, the others women and children, in order to give them a better chance to survive the nearly total annihilation of...

; resistance fighter Hans von Dohnanyi
Hans von Dohnanyi
Hans von Dohnanyi was a German jurist, rescuer of Jews, and German resistance fighter against the Nazi régime.-Early life:...

, and writer Armin Wegner.
307 Including Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens and Princess Alice of Battenberg
Princess Alice of Battenberg
Princess Alice of Battenberg, later Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and mother-in-law of Elizabeth II....

129 Including Jānis Lipke
Janis Lipke
Jānis Lipke was a Latvian rescuer of Jews in Riga during World War II.Lipke, a dock worker in the port of Riga, determined to help save Latvian Jews from capture by the Nazis after witnessing actions against them in the streets...

108 Victor Kugler
Victor Kugler
Victor Kugler was one of the people who helped hide Anne Frank and her family and friends during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. In Anne Frank's posthumously published diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, he was referred to under the name Mr...

 one of the Anne Frank helpers.
88 Irene Harand
Irene Harand
Irene Harand was an Austrian human rights activist and campaigner against antisemitism.Harand was born a Roman Catholic in Vienna and was an early organiser of protests against Nazi Germany's persecutions of Jews...

, Florian Tschögl
Florian Tschögl
Florian Tschögl was one of the Righteous among the Nations, awarded from Yad Vashem. In 1943, while serving in the Wehrmacht, Tschögl was ordered to guard captured Soviet soldiers in a prison camp in Moledeczno, Belarus...

69 Atif & Ganimet Toptani
60 Including Prince Constantin Karadja
Constantin Karadja
Prince Constantin Jean Lars Anthony Démétrius Karadja was a Romanian diplomat, jurist, bibliographer, bibliophile and honorific member of the Romanian Academy...

, credited by Yad Vashem with saving over 51,000 Jews.
47 See Norwegian Righteous among the Nations
Norwegian Righteous among the Nations
During the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, its Jewish community was subject to persecution and deported to extermination camps. Although at least 764 Jews in Norway were killed, over 1,000 were rescued with the help of non-Jewish Norwegians who risked their lives to smuggle the refugees out...

45 Includes Carl Lutz
Carl Lutz
Carl Lutz was the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary from 1942 until the end of World War II. He helped save tens of thousands of Jews from deportation to Nazi Extermination camps during the Holocaust. He is credited with saving over 62,000 Jews...

, who helped save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews.
22 As per their request, members of the Danish Underground
Danish resistance movement
The Danish resistance movement was an underground insurgency movement to resist the German occupation of Denmark during World War II. Due to the unusually lenient terms given to Danish people by the Nazi occupation authority, the movement was slower to develop effective tactics on a wide scale...

 who participated in the rescue of the Danish Jews
Rescue of the Danish Jews
The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. On October 1st 1943 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported...

 are listed as one group.
19 Dimitar Peshev
Dimitar Peshev
Dimitar Peshev was the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Bulgaria and Minister of Justice during World War II...

; Sofia Metropolitan Stefan and Plovdiv Metropolitan Kiril of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church
14 This list includes Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Frank Foley
Frank Foley
Major Francis Edward Foley CMG was a British Secret Intelligence Service officer...

, but excludes Sir Nicholas Winton
Nicholas Winton
Sir Nicholas George Winton, MBE is a British humanitarian who organised the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport. Winton found homes for them and arranged for their safe...

, as he is of Jewish parentage
10 Including Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman, diplomat and humanitarian. He is widely celebrated for his successful efforts to rescue thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary from the Holocaust, during the later stages of World War II...

, Per Anger
Per Anger
Per Johan Valentin Anger was a Swedish diplomat who participated in numerous efforts to rescue Hungarian Jews from arrest and deportation by the Nazis during World War II.-Early career:...

 and Valdemar Langlet
Valdemar Langlet
Valdemar Langlet [lan’lé] was a Swedish publisher, and an early Esperantist. With his wife Nina Borovko-Langlet in Budapest, he is credited with saving many Jews from the Holocaust, by providing Swedish documents saying that people were waiting for Swedish nationality...

4 Angel Sanz Briz
Ángel Sanz Briz
Ángel Sanz Briz was a Spanish diplomat during World War II who helped save many Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution.After studying law, his first diplomatic posting was to Cairo...

, José and Carmen Santaella, and Eduardo Propper de Callejón
Eduardo Propper de Callejón
Eduardo Propper de Callejón was a Spanish diplomat who is mainly remembered for having facilitated the escape of thousands of Jews from occupied France during the World War II between 1940 and 1944....

4 Varian Fry
Varian Fry
Varian Mackey Fry was an American journalist. Fry ran a rescue network in Vichy France that helped approximately 2,000 to 4,000 anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees to escape Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.-Early life:...

, Hiram Bingham IV
Hiram Bingham IV
Hiram "Harry" Bingham IV was an American diplomat. He served as a Vice-Consul in Marseille, France, during World War II, and helped over 2,500 Jews to flee from France as Nazi forces advanced.-Early life:...

, Martha Sharp
Martha Sharp
Martha Ingham Dickie Sharp-Cogan was an American philanthropist who, along with her husband Waitstill Sharp, helped hundreds of Jews to escape Nazi persecution by sending them off through Czechoslovakia-Social Work:...

, and Waitstill Sharp
Waitstill Sharp
Waitstill Hastings Sharp was a Harvard College graduate and Unitarian minister. He was the son of naturalist author and professor Dallas Lore Sharp and Grace Hastings and a descendant of Thomas Hastings who came from the East Anglia region of England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634...

3 Uku Masing
Uku Masing
Uku Masing was an Estonian philosopher, translator, theologist and folklorist. He developed Estonian analytical philosophy. Masing also wrote poetry, mostly on religious issues...

 and Eha Masing, Polina Lentsman
2 Pan Jun Shun
Pan Jun Shun
Pan Jun-Shun , was the first Chinese national to be awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations for hiding and sheltering a Ukrainian Jewish girl during the occupation of part of the Soviet Union during World War II....

 and Feng-Shan Ho (provided approximately 2000 visas to Jews in needed during his tenure as ambassador of ROC in Austria in 1938).
2 Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas
Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas
Luis Martins de Souza Dantas was a Brazilian diplomat who was awarded the Righteous Among The Nations by the Israeli Supreme Court in June 2003 for his participation during the Holocaust in helping Jews in France escape. It is estimated he saved 800 people, 425 confirmed to be Jewish...

 and Aracy de Carvalho Guimarães Rosa
Aracy de Carvalho Guimarães Rosa
Aracy de Carvalho Guimarães Rosa, née Aracy Moebius de Carvalho, was a Brazilian diplomatic clerk who has been recognized with the title of Righteous Among the Nations.-Early life:...

2 Aristides de Sousa Mendes
Aristides de Sousa Mendes
Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches, GCC, OL was a Portuguese diplomat. He ignored and defied the orders of his own government for the safety of war refugees fleeing from invading German military forces in the early years of World War II...

, issued 30,000 visas to people escaping the Nazis. Carlos Sampaio Garrido, sheltered about 1,000 Jews in safe-houses in Budapest and gave them Portuguese documents to leave the country.
1 María Edwards
María Edwards
María Edwards McClure was a Chilean woman who was honored in November 2005 at Israel's Yad Vashem memorial as one of the "Righteous Among The Nations," for her participation during the Holocaust...

1 José Castellanos Contreras
José Castellanos Contreras
José Arturo Castellanos Contreras was a Salvadoran army colonel and diplomat who, while working as El Salvador's Consul General for Geneva during World War II, and in conjunction with a Jewish-Hungarian businessman named György Mandl, helped save up to 40,000 Jews and Central Europeans from Nazi...

 (provided Salvadoran citizenship papers to approximately 13,000 Central European Jews).
1 Chiune Sugihara
Chiune Sugihara
was a Japanese diplomat who served as Vice-Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from...

 (provided approximately 3,400 transit visas to Jews in need).
1 Hugh O'Flaherty
Hugh O'Flaherty
Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, CBE was an Irish Roman Catholic priest and senior official of the Roman Curia. During World War II, he was responsible for saving 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews...

1 Sergei Metreveli
1 Victor Bodson
Victor Bodson
Victor Bodson was a justice minister of Luxembourg and received the Righteous Among the Nations award by the Israeli Supreme Court for his participation during the Holocaust in helping Jews in Germany escape persecution from the German government.Bodson was born in 1902 in Luxembourg...

, (former Justice Minister and Chairman of the Luxembourg House of Representatives; saved approximately 100 Jews)
1 Petar Zankovic
1 Selâhattin Ülkümen
Selahattin Ülkümen
Selahattin Ülkümen was a Turkish diplomat and consul in Rhodes during the Second World War, who assisted many local Jews to escape the Holocaust...

1 Paul Nguyen Cong Anh
Total 23,788


The Righteous among the Nations are honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA)
Calendar of saints (Episcopal Church in the United States of America)
The veneration of saints in the Episcopal Church is a continuation of an ancient tradition from the early Church which honors important people of the Christian faith. The usage of the term "saint" is similar to Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Those in the Anglo-Catholic tradition may...

 on July 16.

See also

:Category:Righteous Among the Nations
  • Ger Toshav
    Ger toshav
    Ger toshav , is a term used in Judaism to refer to a gentile who is a "resident alien", that is, one who lives in a Jewish state and has certain protections under Jewish law, and is considered a righteous gentile .-Definition:...

  • Ger tzedek
  • List of people who helped Jews during the Holocaust
  • List of Righteous among the Nations by country
  • Seven Laws of Noah, a list of seven moral imperatives which, according to the Talmud, were given by God to Noah as a binding set of laws for all mankind
  • Zegota
    "Żegota" , also known as the "Konrad Żegota Committee", was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland from 1942 to 1945....

     Council to Aid the Jews in occupied Poland
  • Virtuous pagan
    Virtuous pagan
    Virtuous paganism is a concept in Christian theology analogous to that of the "righteous gentile" in Judaism. It addressed the problem of pagans who were never evangelized and consequently during their lifetime had no opportunity to recognize Christ, but nevertheless led virtuous lives, so that it...

  • Ivan Vranetić
    Ivan Vranetić
    Ivan "Ivica" Vranetić was a Yugoslav partisan of ethnic Croatian descent, whose aid to Jewish people during World War II resulted in his inclusion among the "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem in 1970...

  • Edwin Holt Hughes
    Edwin Holt Hughes
    Edwin Holt Hughes was an American Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, elected in 1908.-Birth and family:...

External links

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