Most of the rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust were ordinary people who made extraordinary choices. One was Anton Sukhinski, from Zborów in Poland (now in Ukraine). Anton had a reputation for being a loner and an eccentric, and was often ridiculed by his neighbours for what they saw as his unconventional lifestyle. However, he saved the lives of six Jews by hiding them for more than a year. One of them was Eva Halperin.
He was a bachelor and lived alone in a small and very poor house… The neighbours... would come every night and threaten us and ask for money... One night in October they came with guns to the bunker and killed an old woman that was also with us. I was slightly wounded. We managed to escape thanks to Anton's intervention…
We continued to wander until we decided to return to Anton's place... It was a joyful moment when we reached his home. He received us warmly, opened his arms, crying with joy and kissing us. He whispered... "Dears, I am so happy that you came to me. From now on I will not permit anyone to harass you. From now on no one will be able to discover you." … We were happy to be under his care, but for Anton this presented a terrible burden, and he was alone to bear it with his angelic patience, his deep love for human beings and his determination to save our lives.
They were looking for us again... First the Ukrainians came looking for us. They threatened Anton... The SS came and held a gun to his chest and ordered him to denounce the Jews. But he stood firm...
Anton also had the difficult task of feeding us. He was so poor that he himself hardly had enough to eat... Many times he gave us his own food and would go to bed hungry.
As shown in the photograph, Anton Sukhinski was awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations, the honour given to those who risked their lives to save Jews, by Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial museum and remembrance authority, in 1974.
Photo: Anton Sukhinski with two of the women he saved laying a wreath at Yad Vashem, 1970s; Yad Vashem
Testimony: Yad Vashem Archives