Lena Kuchler, Poland

During World War II, Lena Kuchler posed as a Roman Catholic and worked as a nanny and a teacher in Nazi-occupied Poland. After the war, Lena returned home only to discover that her family and neighbors had all been driven away by anti-Semitism and that her sister, Fela, had been killed by the Gestapo.

She went to the Jewish Committee Center in Krakow where surviving Jews could obtain food, water and clothing, as well as to locate family members. There she discovered dozens of abandoned Jewish children, ages 3-15, and became determined to help them. She obtained the necessary food, clothing and medical aid and found a large estate in Zakopane to establish a children’s home. However, hostility from Polish neighbors and a resulting attack by Polish villagers who tried to murder the 100 children she was protecting forced her to relocate. In 1949, Lena finally managed to take all the children through France and into Israel, where she brought them to the Schiller Kibbutz.

Lena published My 100 Children, an autobiography, in 1987. Later that year, Lena: My 100 Children, a docudrama based on her autobiography was broadcast nationwide in the United States. In 2003, My 100 Children, the documentary based on Lena’s autobiography was released and won Israeli Best Documentary in 2004.