Project Description

Yad Vashem Ceremony

Yad Vashem Ceremony honouring Gerhard Kurzbach as a ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ 27 November 2012

When Romek Marber came to the end of his speech, absolute silence prevailed. Then the 250 Berlin students in the auditorium stood up in a standing ovation and applauded the 87-year-old Holocaust survivor for several minutes. The German Federal President, Joachim Gauck, came on stage and embraced him. Due to all the emotion, Romek did not remember this later.

Initially, Romek had kindly but firmly informed us, the Embassy of the State of Israel in Germany, that it would be impossible for him to participate in the ceremony we were organizing in honour of the man who once saved his life. I still remember his phone call a while later in which he told me: “I have been thinking for a long time. I will come. I will do it for Kurzbach.” Therefore, Romek was present after all, when Wehrmacht soldier Gerhard Kurzbach was posthumously honoured as a “Righteous Among the Nations” in a Yad Vashem Ceremony on 27 November 2012 in Berlin. The 28-year-old German had saved Romek’s life when he prevented the deportation of the Jewish forced labourers from the workshop he ran in the Bochnia Ghetto in August 1942.

At the ceremony, the Israeli Ambassador to Germany presented the Yad Vashem medal and certificate of honour to Kurzbach’s grand­children. Afterwards Romek, the only person still alive who had known Kurzbach personally, gave an account of the events in his own words. He is the reason why none of those present, including myself, will ever forget that day.

The ceremony took place in the framework of a student project day organised by the embassies of Israel and Sweden in Germany and in the presence of the ambassadors of both countries on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the Swedish diplomat Raul Wallenberg, who has also been recognized by Yad Vashem as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’.

Sandra Witte
Embassy of the State of Israel in Germany.
Responsible for the ceremonies honouring the German ‘Righteous Among the Nations’

Ofer Aderet writes: Romek Marber got a surprising telephone call from the Israeli Embassy in Berlin, in which he was informed that Kurzbach would be named ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ at a ceremony in Berlin. As Romek was the only person still living who knew Kurzbach, he was invited to be the guest of honour at the event, and to meet the family of the man who saved his life. Read more


Romek’s speech at ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ ceremony in Berlin


The complete  ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ ceremony