In July 2019, the President of Russia signed an Executive Order posthumously awarding Leon Feldhendler for his personal courage and heroism in organising the uprising at the Sobibor death camp.
Born in 1910 in Turobin, Poland, Leon Feldhendler was sent to the Sobibor concentration camp in autumn 1942, where he led an underground group. After the arrival of Soviet prisoners of war in September 1943, he teamed up with Soviet officer Alexander Pechersky to organise the only successful uprising in a Nazi camp. After the liberation of eastern Poland by the Red Army, Feldhendler moved to Lublin. In April 1945, he was killed under still unclear circumstances.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,
Today we are conferring the Order of Courage to the family of World War II hero Leon Feldhendler.
This award is a symbol of the deep respect that the people of Russia have for this brave man, a tribute to his memory and recognition of his achievement that gave people hope and life.
Leon Feldhendler knew difficult times. He lost his parents, his wife and sons, and suffered unbearable torture and horrors in the ghetto and at the Sobibor death camp, and he witnessed the consistent and cold-blooded extermination of many thousands of people.
But he did not lose heart; he showed the will to live and to win. He organised an international underground group at the camp and raised the hopes of the emaciated and exhausted prisoners who had lost all faith in justice or hope for life, and encouraged them to fight.
He established contact with the Soviet prisoners of war who arrived at the camp, including the fearless Soviet officer Alexander Pechersky. Together they became the inspirers and leaders of an unprecedented uprising of prisoners at the Sobibor camp. Their feat is a great role model, and is forever carved into world history.
Russia values Israel’s efforts to preserve the memory of our common fight against Nazism, of the heroes and victims of World War II. Together we will work for the sake of present and future generations and make sure all people know about the horrors of that war and the truth about it.
Nitza Shacham (retranslated): Thank you very much.
I am very emotional and very grateful to you, Mr President, for the opportunity to pass on this story to future generations.
We are a small family that keeps the memory of those who passed. And following today's event, we will be able to keep Leon’s memory and pass it on to future generations.
Vladimir Putin: Once again I would like to wish you all the best.
For us in Russia, the memory of people like your ancestor is sacred. We can see that the memory of such people is as sacred in Israel.
I wish you all the very best.