Almost 70 years ago, George Rishfeld’s desperate parents tossed their infant son over a barbed-wire fence in Poland, into the arms of a non-Jewish family friend. The young woman vowed to raise George as her own if his parents did not return, but they did return to reclaim their son.
On Tuesday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m., Rishfeld will share his story at the Thomas County Board of Education Auditorium. Sponsored by the Thomas County Board of Education in conjunction with the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, the event is open to the public.
Rishfeld was born a few months prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland in September of 1939. This move by the Nazis thrust Europe into World War II. George, whose original name was Jureck, came into the world at the worst possible moment for the Jews of Poland.
As the Nazis marched into Poland, many of the Jews living in Warsaw fled to the Lithuanian city of Vilna, thinking they would be safe there. What the Rishfeld family learned, like millions of other European Jews, was that there was no safe place to hide. As the Nazis came into Vilna, they immediately set about rounding up Jewish citizens and forcing them into a small area of the city, known as a ghetto, which was either walled or enclosed with barbed wire where they would be separated from other Poles.
If Rishfeld was going to survive, his family had to have a plan to get him out. Prior to the chaos in Warsaw, George's father had owned a fur business. In that business, he employed a non-Jewish gentleman, Mr. Fronckvics and his daughter, Halinka. The Rishfelds had developed a close relationship with this family and through their friendship, George's life was saved.
Rishfeld's story will highlight the heroism of the Fronckvics family who saved his life and his relationship with Halinka and the Fronckvics. His story is both frightening and inspiring.