Amelia ”Mela” Roslan was a Polish Catholic woman who, along with her husband, helped three boys escape capture by the Nazis during the war. She took them into their home and pretended they were her own children.
Born in Poland in 1907, Mela was the daughter of a shoemaker. She lived in a small town named Bialystok, and married a neighborhood boy named Alex in 1928. They had two children in the early 30s.
Alex became a textile merchant, and developed many Jewish business contacts and friends. His prosperous business was affected when many of his customers were swept up and put in the ghetto. The Roslans moved to Warsaw with their two children, and there began their unforeseen rescue work.
There they took in three brothers from the Gutgelt family shortly before the Warsaw ghetto revolt in 1943. Jacob, Sholom, and David were ages three to eight. Mela tended to their feeding, clothing, and medical care. Although a gentile, she never let the boys forget that they were Jews.
Sholom later died as a result of a scarlet fever outbreak. After the liberation, Jacob and David made their way to Palestine. The Roslans eventually immigrated to the U.S.
In 1981, Alex and Mela traveled to Israel to visit David and Jacob and celebrate Passover together. During this visit they were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations.
Mela died in 1996 at the age of 87, and was survived by her husband Alex, who eventually returned to live in Poland.
Michael Halperin wrote a one-character play based upon the true story of Mela Roslan, entitled Mela. A special performance of the play was given in Jerusalem in August, 2004 for the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Yad Vashem. This play became the basis for the best-selling children’s book entitled Jacob’s Rescue written by Halperin and Malka Drucker.