Oldest living Righteous Among the Nations turns 102

Krystyna Dańko saved five Jews in Otwock, Poland, including the Kokoszko family.

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July 11, 2019 22:54
2 minute read.
Oldest living Righteous Among the Nations turns 102

From the Depths founder Jonny Daniels sits with the oldest living Righteous Among the Nations Krystyna Dańko on her 102nd birthday. (photo credit: FROM THE DEPTHS)

 
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She risked her life to save five Jews during the Holocaust. And this week, Krystyna Danko from the Polish city of Otwock turned 102.
She is believed to be the oldest Righteous Among the Nations still living.

Danko saved four members of the Kokoszko family, as well as a young girl from another family during the Holocaust.

Jonny Daniels, founder of Holocaust remembrance group From The Depths, visited her home this week, fulfilling the organization’s mandate “to honor the Righteous while we still can, and bring them flowers on their birthdays,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “It was an absolute honor to visit her on her birthday.”

Daniels said that she is unable to leave her home as she is completely blind.

“[She] is a true hero, who risked her life and the lives of those around her to do the remarkable: to save five of my Jewish brothers and sisters during the Holocaust,” he said. “As a millennial, I see so much evil, hatred and anger in the world surrounding us; a world where racism and antisemitism have become commonplace, once again. It’s the heroes like Mrs. Danko who teach us what it means to stand and do what’s right, regardless of the risks involved.”

According to the Yad Vashem website, Danko, who was an orphan, formed a close friendship with the oldest daughter of the Kokoszko family, Helena – known as Lusia – during their high school years.

Due to their close bond, Danko spent “a great deal of time in the Kokoszko family’s home, where she found warmth and emotional support.”

Following the invasion of Poland in 1939, Danko, “at great personal risk, went to incredible lengths to help the Kokoszko family escape the Nazis.” She hid father Michal, mother Eugenia, and Lusia, the eldest daughter, in a secret location and sent the youngest daughter, Maria, who was 11 at the time, on a train from Otwock to an orphanage in Warsaw.

She became the liaison between the Kokoszko family and Maria, by carrying messages and information back and forth throughout German-occupied Poland.

While the Kokoszko family was hiding in a village near Otwock, she gave them food, clothing and money.

All five of those she saved survived the war. Asked later in life why she risked her life, Danko said it “was her moral obligation as a human being.”

Danko received recognition as a Righteous Among the Nations in 1998 for helping to save the Kokoszko family, who settled in Warsaw after the war.

Daniels explained that Danko is now struggling with her health and has called on the public to help her pay for some necessary medical equipment.

“Sadly, there are few ‘Righteous’ remaining, and the [health] situation of Mrs. Danko is not great. With a complete loss of her eyesight and poor hearing, she’s confined to her home and is in need of medical equipment, including a new medical bed to ease her situation.

“We are asking people to join us in helping those who helped us,” Daniels concluded.

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