Grave of Righteous Among the Nations Wladyslaw Kowalski
“…I am telling you that I did not rescue hundreds, but rather only 49 Jews. I did not do anything special for the Jews, and I do not consider myself a hero. I only fulfilled my human obligation to the persecuted and the oppressed… I did not do this only because they were Jews, but rather I helped all persecuted people, regardless of race and origin.”
Wladyslaw Kowalski was a Polish colonel born in 1896.
Between 1940 and 1945, Kowalski rescued 49 Jews in Warsaw in different ways: by hiding them, providing them with food and falsified documents, and smuggling medicine and weapons into the ghetto.
At the end of the war, Kowalski married Leah Bucholtz, a Jewish woman he had rescued. In 1957, the couple immigrated to Israel along with Leah’s son. Kowalski worked in the documentation department of Yad Vashem, and in 1963 he was awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations.
Not long before he passed away in 1971, Kowalski requested to be buried “beside his Jewish brothers,” but the official religious institutions in Israel refused to grant his request to be buried in a Jewish cemetery. The requests of his Jewish wife and many of the Jews he rescued living in Israel were also all refused by the Rabbinate. Ultimately, the solution that was found was to appeal to Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, which immediately agreed to pay its final respects to this man, to whom the Jewish People owed so much.
Wladyslaw Kowalski’s grave is located in the cemetery of Yad Mordechai among the graves of kibbutz members, under an impressive sycamore tree. Engraved into his headstone is the medal he was awarded by Yad Vashem to those recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Kowalski’s grave is visited by groups during study days, workshops, and visits to the museum.