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Helena Orchon Poland

Warsaw, Poland… 1941 – Helena was a stage actress and a director in pre-war Poland. Her entire family was involved in the theater. When the Germans invaded Poland, Helena joined the Polish underground. She obtained forged papers for Jews she knew, including her girlfriend’s brother, Joseph, who was an assimilated Jew with “Polish looks.” With the forged papers he was able to pass as a Christian.

In addition to obtaining forged papers for Jews, Helena found them places to stay. She taught the Jews how to act as Poles. They learned Catholic prayers that they could recite in case they were stopped and interrogated by the Germans. The Jews who were not able to pass as Christians remained hidden in Helena’s apartment.

Helena Orchon helped to save scores of Jews. When asked, “How many Jews did you save?” she answered, “I am often asked that question. It isn’t possible for one person to be able to save another’s life because it takes a whole network of people to do it. I needed the help of my husband and others in the resistance. It was very, very difficult for one person to save a life.”

After the war, Helena married Joseph and they left Poland. They eventually moved to the United States. Joseph died years ago. Helena Orchon died in 1998 at the age of 95.