A Righteous Gentile Saves a Jewish Girl in Ukraine

Stand for Israel  |  February 13, 2022

Young girl starving in Kharkov, Ukraine
(Photo: wikicommons/Alexander Wienerberger)

As all of us around the world who stand for Israel and the Jewish people pray for those in Ukraine, we’ll share the story of a widower who sheltered and saved the life of a young Jewish girl in Ukraine. This is the story of Jun Shun Pan, a Hero of the Holocaust and the first Righteous Among the Nations from China.

Born in China in 1889, Jun Shun Pan moved to Russia in 1916 to find work, and then was unable to return home because of the revolution. In Moscow, he married and had two sons. In 1936, the family moved to Kharkov, Ukraine, where Jun Shun Pan’s wife died and his sons were drafted into the Red Army, both killed on the front lines.

Depressed and lonely, Jun Shun Pan learned of the plight of the local Jewish community. The Nazis housed the Jews in old huts near a tractor factory in Kharkov, giving them neither food nor water. The Jews were forced to subsist on snow. The Nazis announced they would be transporting the Jewish children to another town, though they would instead murder them.

Yelisaveta Dvorkina, a Jewish woman whose husband had already been murdered, bribed the Nazis with her jewelry so that her children could escape. Her daughter Ludmilla managed to reach their old home.

A group of Chinese people were living nearby, one of them being the aging widower, Jun Shun Pan. Depressed and alone, he took the Jewish girl in.

Other Righteous Gentiles helped him hide the girl, and they took care of little Ludmilla from January 1942 until the area was liberated. After the liberation, he continued to care for Ludmilla, even paying for her education.

Jun Shun Pan passed away in 1974, and was posthumously named Righteous Among the Nations in 1995, the first Chinese person to be so honored by Yad Vashem.

Let us all find inspiration from this Righteous Gentile as we continue to pray for and help the Jewish people of the former Soviet Union.