90-year-old who saved Jew in Holocaust found living in poverty in Belarus

Lyubov Volchek was recognized as a "Righteous Among the Nations' for sheltering an 11-year-old Jewish girl during the Holocaust.

Righteous Among the Nations, Lyubov Volchek, in Belarus (photo credit: WWW.FROMTHEDEPTHS.ORG)
Righteous Among the Nations, Lyubov Volchek, in Belarus
(photo credit: WWW.FROMTHEDEPTHS.ORG)
A 90-year-old woman who risked her life to save a Jewish girl during the Holocaust was found living in poverty in the town of Hlusk in Belarus, the From the Depths organization announced on Wednesday.
In 1998, Yad Vashem honored Lyubov Volchek as a Righteous Among the Nations, an honor given to those who provided aid to Jews during the Holocaust.

Lyubov Volchek in her home (Credit: www.FromTheDepths.org)Lyubov Volchek in her home (Credit: www.FromTheDepths.org)
Volchek was found living in a crumbling house in Hlusk, a small town in central Belarus. In June 1941, Nazi troops gathered the 2,000 Jews living in the town in the main square, led them to death pits and gunned them down. A bullet aimed at Olga Shulman, an 11-year-old Jewish girl from the town, missed and she hid under the dead body of her mother for two days.
Shulman proceeded to crawl out of the pit and eventually made her way to Volchek's mother, who decided to protect the girl. According to Yad Vashem, Nadezhda Arkhiptsova, Volchek's mother, was living in the town with her ill husband and four children when Shulman came knocking on their door. Despite the danger, crowding and poverty, she welcomed Shulman into her home and hid her on her property.
Volchek was placed in charge of looking after her, bringing her food, blankets and friendship every day. When the Nazis carried out searches for Jews in local houses, Volchek led Shulman to a mud hut nearby where she continued to care for her.
Lyubov Volchek's mother, who helped protect 11-year-old Olga Shulman during the Holocaust (Credit: www.FromTheDepths.org)Lyubov Volchek's mother, who helped protect 11-year-old Olga Shulman during the Holocaust (Credit: www.FromTheDepths.org)
After the town was liberated in 1944, Olga was located by her uncle who brought her to Minsk and she emigrated to the US in the 1990s, remaining in contact with Volchek and her parents and visiting them every year until her death.
Picture of Lyubov Volchek with Olga Shulman in the 1970's (Credit: www.FromTheDepths.org)Picture of Lyubov Volchek with Olga Shulman in the 1970's (Credit: www.FromTheDepths.org)
"Today Luybov is living in incredibly poor conditions, with no central heating in her home, and not even a toilet on her premises, she does not receive any ongoing support," said Jonny Daniels of the From the Depths organization in a press release, stressing that “She risked her life to save others, now she needs you.”
The organization has opened an online fundraiser to help and buy her a new home. If more funds are raised, they will go towards helping the other 194 living Righteous Among the Nations around the world. As of Wednesday night, the fundraiser had raised nearly $3,000 out of the $50,000 goal.
 
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, From the Depths has worked to locate the Righteous Among the Nations and help them stay safe and taken care of during the international crisis.
"We brought her enough food and medication to last for a few months, but she needs more, so with your help and in partnership with the Jewish community of Babruysk, the nearest Jewish community, we will be purchasing her an apartment next to the synagogue, so she can be properly cared for in her final years, she will be a cherished part of the community and have all she needs,” said Daniels.
From the Depths works to help both Righteous Among the Nations and Holocaust survivors, providing care packages, financial aid and services to them.