Polish President Andrzej Duda awarded four Hungarians posthumously with the Virtus et Fraternitas medal in recognition for their efforts in helping Polish refugees during the Second World War. The ceremony was held in the park of the presidential Belweder Palace in Warsaw on Wednesday.
The honors were handed over to the descendants of Margit Károlyi, Erzsébet Szapáry, Antal Szapáry, and Edit Weiss.
FactThe Virtus et Fraternitas medal is awarded by the Polish head of state on the recommendation of the Warsaw-based Witold Pilecki Institute researching totalitarian regimes. The awards honoring “heroic conduct” and “exceptional courage in defending human dignity,” are given to foreign citizens who helped the people of Poland during the 20th century. It is the third time this year that the medals were awarded.
Countess Margit Károlyi was the founder of the Hungarian-Polish Committee for Refugees. She personally received refugees from Poland and made arrangements towards the accommodation and education of their children.
Countess Erzsébet Szapáry and her brother Antal accommodated the first Polish refugees and helped them leave Hungary for Western Europe. Erzsébet was also active in rescuing orphaned Jewish children from Poland.
Edit Weiss, the daughter of industrialist Manfred Weiss, helped Polish refugees to travel on to Iraq and France, and saved many Polish Jews from deportation.
During the war, nearly 120,000 Poles fled to Hungary and found shelter across the country, while the Hungarian-Polish committee played a crucial role in assisting them.
Last year, Jenő Etter (1889-1973), former mayor of Esztergom, who also helped Polish war refugees, was awarded the prize, and in 2019, Colonel Lóránd Utassy (1897-1974), head of the prisoner of war department of the Royal Hungarian Ministry of Defense (1943-1944), was also honored.
Featured photo by Szerhij Dolzsenko/MTI/EPA