New York, NY, November 7, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) posthumously honored Count János Esterházy, a Hungarian aristocrat and member of the Slovak Parliament, for his efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust by helping Polish refugees, many of whom were Jews, and Slovak Jews flee to Hungary.
The ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award, established in 1987 to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era, was presented to Esterházy's grandson, Giovanni Malfatti, on Nov. 3 during the League's 2011 Annual Meeting in New York City.
"I know first-hand how essential it is to have the help of just one person, who at the moment of moral collapse, did not forget the essential principle of leading a moral life: Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor who was saved by his Polish nanny. "To help another human being when to do so will earn you scorn, contempt and even threaten your life and that of your family, that is to take a moral stand of incalculable value. János Esterházy did and he deserves our recognition and our eternal thanks."
Born in 1901 in Austria-Hungary into the Hungarian aristocratic House of Esterházy, Esterházy became active in politics in the 1930s, serving as President of the Hungarian National Union League, President of the National Christian Socialist Party in Czechoslovakia, and then as a member of the Parliament of Prague.
In 1939, he became the only Hungarian member of Slovak Parliament and he helped with the relocation of Polish refugees, many of whom were Jews, to Hungary. Then in 1942, he was the only one of 63 members of Parliament to vote against the deportation of Slovakia's Jews. Following the vote, he helped Jews flee to Hungary. In 2010, Yad Vashem recognized and expressed appreciation for his efforts to save persecuted Jews during the Holocaust.
"My mom told me and I will tell my son the story of a very courageous, decent man who did the right thing when many others did not," said Giovanni Malfatti, who accepted the award on behalf of his late grandfather. "We must not only remember the tragedy of the Holocaust, but also remember the good that occurred during it."
In 1987, ADL created a unique award to honor rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust era. This year, the award was renamed in honor of one of its first recipients, Jan Karski, a Polish diplomat and righteous gentile who provided one of the first eyewitness accounts of Hitler's Final Solution to the West. The ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award is a plaque with bas-reliefs that depict the horrifying context – the Nazis' persecution, deportation and murder of millions of Jews – that served as a backdrop for the rescuers' exceptional deeds. The Courage to Care Award is made possible through a generous grant from Eileen Ludwig-Greenland.
Past recipients of the ADL Jan Karski Courage to Care Award include: Horst Lantzsch, Irene Gut Opdyke, Gilberto Bosques Saldívar, Eduardo Propper de Callejón, Khaled Abdelwahhab, Ernst Leitz II, Mefail and Njazi Bicaku, Hiram Bingham IV, Sir Nicholas Winton, Konstantin Koslovsky, Jan and Miep Gies, Aristides De Sousa Mendes, Jan Karski, Selahattin Ulkumen, Chiune Sugihara, the French town of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, Emilie and Oskar Schindler, The Partisans of Riccione, Italy and Johanna Vos.