Helena Orchon, Poland

Helena Orchon was born in Poland in 1903. Her entire family was involved in the theatre. Similarly, she became an actress and director. When the Nazis invaded in 1939, Helena joined the Polish underground.

In one example of Helena’s active resistance to the Nazi occupation of her homeland, she obtained forged identity papers for Jews. This included her girlfriend’s brother, Joseph. He was an assimilated Jewish man with ”Polish looks”, enabling him to survive the war passing as a Christian.

In addition to obtaining forged papers, Helena also found them places to stay as well as taught them how to act as native Poles. Should they be stopped and interrogated by the Germans, she instructed them on Catholic prayers and rituals. The Jews who were not able to ”pass” as Christians remained hidden in Helena’s apartment.

After the war, Helena married Joseph and they left Poland and settled in the United States. Helena died in 1998 in Brooklyn Heights at the age of 95.

Edited by Matthew London

Source: http://www.jfr.org/content/default.asp?artid=37