From Orphan to Hero

Stand for Israel  |  July 11, 2022

Krystyna Danko, orphan who helped Jews during Holocaust
(Photo: Yad Vashem)

Before World War II began, Krystyna Danko’s life in the town of Otwock, Poland, was already difficult. An orphan, the girl had no family of her own. However, a Jewish family and their oldest daughter Lusia Kokoszko befriended Krystyna and took her in. This family would be her own.

And when war began and the Nazis invaded Poland and began rounding up, deporting, and murdering the country’s Jews, Krystyna decided to help the Kokoszko family. Krystyna sneaked food, clothing, and money to the hiding family. Then, when the opportunity arose, Krystyna helped the youngest Kokoszko daughter, 11-year-old Maria, hide at a Christian orphanage under a false name. Krystyna then became the go-between for Maria and her hiding family, delivering messages between them.

When the Nazis liquidated the Otwock Ghetto – where the town’s 8,000 Jews had been held – more than 75% of them were murdered. But, thanks to the efforts of a Polish orphan – Krystyna Danko – the Kokoszko family survived.

It was the testimony of Maria Kokoszko that led to Krystyna Danko being named Righteous Among the Nations. When asked how she acted so bravely, Krystyna humbly answered, “I was never afraid of anything.” Krystyna then went on to live a long, productive life, and her heroic actions were never forgotten.

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