This was my fourth year participating in A to Z, and my second year doing it with two blogs. I had all my posts written, scheduled, and edited in advance, and had most of my list put together last year. This is such a helpful thing to do if you want to get through all 26 posts. Fewer people might drop out or fail to begin if they planned a theme and wrote their posts in advance. I already know what next year’s theme is, and have most of my topics selected.
F and I were in part edited and expanded from material in last year’s E and Z posts, and R, W, and Z were edited down from Find A Grave bios I wrote. W and Z by far had the most editing, going from 1,542 to 690 words and 1,284 to 799 words, respectively (including photo captions and intro lines).
Certificate presented to the Righteous Among the Nations; Copyright http://www.yadvashem.org/; Use consistent with fair use doctrine
It was very important I not profile the big-name rescuers many people are already familiar with (at least in name, if not in story), like Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg, Chiune Sugihara, Irena Sendler, Miep Gies, Varian Fry, and Jan Karski. This wasn’t to diminish their heroism at all, but rather to profile people the average person has never even heard of. I was unfamiliar with most of them as well before I began researching these posts.
I really wanted to include people from places not commonly heard about in the WWII/Shoah narrative, like Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, and Bulgaria. Some of these people’s names stood out to me, like Kleopatra Pawłowska and Veseli Veseli. A number of these heroes are the first people to represent their countries of origin, like Ireland, Egypt, El Salvador, Macedonia, Estonia, and Albania. Other firsts included the first Muslims and the first Arab.
As a passionate Armenophile of 20 years now, I had to include an Armenian, and as a passionate Estophile of about 15 years, I had to include an Estonian. I spotlighted four quasi-exceptions to the overall theme, since Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria has been one of my heroes since I learnt his story at age 16, and I’d already created the Find A Grave interments for Róża Robota, Stefania Wilczynska, and Mala Zimetbaum. Not only did it create somewhat less work, but it was only right to spotlight a few people who acted heroically in their own right.
Righteous Among the Nations by country, as of 1 January 2015. The asterisk by Denmark indicates the Danish Resistance asked to be honoured as one, instead of individually. The asterisks by The Netherlands indicate two people from the Dutch East Indies but living in The Netherlands.
You can read more details and rescue stories at Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations page. It has information on who qualifies, who doesn’t qualify, how to nominate someone, special categories of rescuers (such as Armenians, athletes, and nursemaids), noteworthy rescue stories, and more. I Am My Brother’s Keeper has even more stories and information.
Obverse of medal given to Righteous Among the Nations; Copyright http://www.yadvashem.org/; Use consistent with fair use doctrine
As in prior years, it was always frustrating to click on an interesting-sounding link and discover that person either never started the Challenge, or quit participating without either later making up for it or writing a post explaining why s/he decided not to continue. A number of blogs I visited hadn’t posted anything in months, or were regularly posting but not as part of the Challenge. Some links weren’t even to blogs, but to websites advertising their businesses. What a sleazy method of attempted self-promotion.
One blogger used part of her theme to indirectly shill for her MLM. Yeah, like I needed yet another reason to loathe and despise all MLMs! It’s one thing to use a theme that’s related to one of your books (like places in Boston), or to highlight your own artwork or crafts, but entirely another to outright promote an MLM’s products!
It was hard to find some blog posts, since:
The A to Z post wasn’t first on blogs with multiple posts a day
It wasn’t clear this was an A to Z post because of the lack of the button, non-alphabetical title, and no indicative opening line, and either only announced at the end or not at all
The blog itself was confusing to navigate
The link went to a webpage, not the blog itself, or the A to Z posts were on a separate section on the linked blog
Reverse of medal given to Righteous Among the Nations; Copyright http://www.yadvashem.org/; Use consistent with fair use doctrine
Recap of my A to Z posts:
Ashkhen Agopyan, an Armenian living in Ukraine (52 views)
Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria (26 views)
José Castellanos Contreras, the first and only recipient from El Salvador, working as a diplomat in Switzerland (34 views)
Hans von Dohnányi, a German of Hungarian descent, who paid the ultimate price (32 views)
Mary Elmes, the first and only recipient from Ireland, working with the Quakers in France (25 views)
Frits Philips, from The Netherlands (24 views)
Bishop Pavel Gojdič, a fellow Slovakian who was later sentenced to prison for refusing to renounce his Greek Catholic faith (18 views)
The Hardaga family of Bosnia, the first Muslims to be named Righteous Among the Nations (36 views)
Ivan Vranetić, one of the righteous Croatians who stood strong against the Ustashis. One of the people he saved was his own future wife, whom he had to wait almost 20 years to finally marry. (30 views)
Dr. Jozef Jaksy, a fellow Slovakian who settled in Manhattan after the war (28 views)
Nurse Kleopatra Pawłowska, from Poland (19 views)
Carl Lutz, a Swiss diplomat who saved over half the Jewish population of Budapest, the first person from Switzerland to be named Righteous Among the Nations (15 views)
Dr. Mohamed Helmy, the first Arab and Egyptian to be recognised, who saved four people in Berlin (41 views)
Dorothea Neff, a German whose rescue story transpired in Austria (21 views)
Otto Weidt, who saved the employees of his workshop for the blind and Deaf in Berlin (19 views)
Dimitar Peshev, Vice-Chairman of the Bulgarian Parliament, who helped to save the entire Bulgarian community (15 views)
Beqir Qoqja, from Albania (28 views)
Róża Robota, the leader of the smuggling ring assisting the Sonderkommando Revolt (14 views)
Minister Waitstill and Martha Sharp, the second and third people from the U.S. to be named Righteous Among the Nations, working in the former Czechoslovakia and Portugal (17 views)
Dr. Todor and Pandora Hadži-Mitkov, the first Macedonians to be recognised (13 views)
Uku and Eha Masing, the first Estonians to be recognised (13 views)
The Veseli family of Albania, the first Albanians to be recognised (18 views)
Stefania Wilczynska (Madame Stefa), the co-director of the Warsaw Ghetto Orphanage (17 views)
Qamil and Hanume Xhyheri, from Albania (14 views)
Yiorgos and Magdalini Mitzeliotis, from Greece (17 views)
Malka (Mala) Zimetbaum, who used her high-ranking position for good, and later enjoyed a short-lived escape with her boyfriend Edek Galiński (37 views)
The Unknown Righteous Among the Nations, made by Shlomo Selinger (born 1928) in 1987, red granite, donated by Alexander Bronowski of Haifa