WARSAW, Poland — Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski returned to Poland, the country of his childhood, and also paid tribute Thursday to a Polish couple who took him and shielded him when he had been a young child, saving him in the Holocaust during World War II.
That is among the hardly any states Polanski can travel to securely since he remains a fugitive from U.S. law after pleading guilty to unlawful intercourse with a minor in 1977 and fleeing the United States the next year.
Polanski remembered Stefania Buchala as an”extremely commendable and spiritual person” who had the guts to risk not just her own life in sheltering him but also the lives of her kids. In occupied Poland, Nazi Germans penalized anyone serving Jews with immediate execution of the individual involved and their whole family.
The couple’s grandson, Stanislaw Buchala, obtained the medal and the degree on behalf of his grandparents out of Israel’s deputy ambassador, Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon, in a Jewish memorial center in Gliwice, in southern Poland. City police also attended the service.
Polanski and Buchala posed for photographs together, but any psychological gestures were made hopeless by the anti-COVID-19 social distancing and masks.
Polanski was nine years old in 1942 when his parents left him to escape in the Krakow Ghetto and conceal with a Polish family that they understood and had paid to shield him. Both of his parents had been shortly after visiting death camps.
The Krakow Ghetto was among several where Nazi Germans isolated Jews in the external world as they occupied Poland during World War II.
Polanski was finally given lasting refuge by the Buchalas, from 1943-45, at the tiny southern village of Wysoka.
In his petition for the Yad Vashem honor, Polanski composed that Stefania”didn’t hesitate, but had been driven by the love for another human being” when she chose to conceal him.
“Throughout all the time, despite poverty and scant meals, she made certain I was fed and safe,” he added.
The Buchalas expired in 1953.
They’re one of some 7,000 Poles now known by Yad Vashem for rescuing Jews from certain death at the hands of Nazi forces. More individuals from Poland are known for such heroism than in another nation.
One of Polanski’s granted projects is a narrative of Holocaust survival, the 2003 Oscar-winning movie the”The Pianist.”
His petition to have his membership reinstated was denied this year.