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November 1, 2013 3:39 pm

ADL Honors Ukrainian Archbishop Who Saved Jews During Holocaust

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A painting of Andrei Sheptytsky. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Anti-Defamation League posthumously honored a Ukrainian Archbishop on Friday for his role in saving Jews during the Holocaust.

Metropolitan Archbishop Andrei Sheptytsky, a spiritual leader of Ukrainian Catholics who headed the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 1900 until his death in 1944, was honored with the ‘ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award’ during the ADL’s Centennial Meeting in New York City.  The religious leader was recognized for his courageous efforts to protect Ukrainian Jews from extermination by supplying false identification papers and shelter from the Nazis at a time when such acts were punishable by death.

“We are honoring Metropolitan Sheptytsky for his selfless commitment to the goal of preserving human life, and for fighting anti-Semitism under the Nazi regime during a harrowing and dark moment in history,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. “We can only speculate how many countless innocent lives were spared by the untiring efforts of this one compassionate individual.”

Established in 1987 to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era, the ‘ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award,’ was presented to Sheptytsky’s great nephew, Professor Jerzy Weyman, who accepted it on behalf of his family.

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“As a man of God, [Andrei Sheptytsky] was primarily concerned with bringing comfort to people and saving their lives, regardless of their nationality and background,” said Professor Weyman. “Thanks to his moral vision, he succeeded in saving many during times so terrible they are hard to imagine for anybody who did not live through them.”

According to a statement from the ADL, “Metropolitan Sheptytsky (1865-1944) openly opposed the persecution of Jews, both directly to Nazi leadership and publicly to his entire community, with letters urging those individuals to not engage in what he termed ‘political murder.'”

“He had close and friendly ties to the Jewish community of the Lviv region before the war began, and Jews often turned to him for help. Under his direction and leadership, they were supplied with false papers, including baptism certificates, to protect them from capture by the Nazis. Some were hidden and disguised in monasteries. The Metropolitan himself sheltered Jews in his private library and other locations on his own premises.”

“In February 1942, Sheptytsky wrote a letter to the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, protesting the Nazis’ murderous policy and complaining about the use of Ukrainian policemen to kill Jews. His pastoral letter ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill,’ which urged individuals to not engage in political murder, was read in every local church.”

“In addition to those he saved directly, who knows how many more he saved indirectly, through his strong moral voice that influenced others to act,” Foxman said in presenting the award. “The Ukrainian nationalism of Andrei Sheptytsky, one of compassion, even love, for his Jewish neighbors, is one that Jews around the world can embrace and support.”

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  • Rev. Ivan Kaszczak

    What a wonderful gift to humanity is a person who respects all of humanity! Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s witness and heroic protection of Jews is an example to all of us. When you fight for the rights of one people you ensure the rights of all peoples. It is a magnificent thing to shed light on such a courageous man who gave us such a vivid example to imitate.

  • christine melnyk

    Finally recognized for what Metropolitan Sheptytsky did many, many years ago. This recognition is long overdue.

    But thank you for giving him the recognition for what he did.

  • Arnold Handelman

    Let’s face it, there were a lot of active Jew-haters in most countries during WWII. Some Ukrainians were really bad, and participated in the process of getting Jews murdered. But this Ukrainian Archbishop, Sheptytsky risked his own life to save Jews. He deserved to be honoured. His example is a clear indication that one must keep an open mind and give each person the benefit of the doubt. Generalizations are bound to be incorrect because of the prevalence of exceptions.

  • Bede A.

    “Catholics” and Christians aren’t after all, prosecuting the Jews, as many like to believe…

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