A Bosnian Muslim family was recognised on 29 May 2018 for saving the life of a Jewish girl, Nadica, now living in Australia, from the Nazi regime during World War 2.
Before and during World War 2 the Nazi regime carried out atrocities that the whole world knows about.
Whilst there are many stories of bravery on the battlefront, there are also counts of heroism that to this day are only now being told.
One such account is of a Bosnian Muslim family by the name of Prohić who risked their lives in order to save Nadica, a young Jewish child. This is the story of the Prohić family.
A Jewish couple Viktor (pharmacist) and Helena Kolman moved to Grac’anica in Bosnia. They became good friends with the Muslim family Prohić, in particular Avdo, the first Muslim doctor in Grac’anica.
During the war, Viktor was shot and killed fighting the Nazis. Helena who was on the run, got pneumonia and was very sick together with their 12 month old daughter Nadica.
When Avdo heard about their grave situation, he fetched them and brought them back to Grac’anica and treated them in hospital. Helena was later arrested and killed by the Croatian Nazis in August 1943.
Avdo took Nadica to his home and looked and cared after her together with his mother Esme. When they heard that the Nazis were looking for a Jewish child, it became too dangerous for her to stay in Grac’anica.
Avdo’s brother Rukib Prohić and his fiancé Mujesira took her pretending that it was their child to Zagreb to Sabria and his wife Safeta who already had 3 children of their own. Nadica lived with them for over 2 years. They often hid her with nannies in many different properties Sabria owned.
Helena’s older sister Erna with her husband Albert and 2 sons, Kurt and Egon, survived the war by moving with false documents from Bosnia to Italy and Switzerland.
After the war Erna and Albert went to Bosnia to look for any survivors of Erna’s family. All had been killed except little 3 years old Nadica whom they found with Sabria’s family.
They adopted her. After moving to Israel when Nadica was 7 years old, South Africa followed and they finally settled in Sydney.
Egon Sonnenschein, one of Erna’s two sons, recently made contact with Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. He got the Prohić family honoured for their great deed of saving a young Jewish girl during the Nazi fascist regime.
After submitting much evidence, documentation and photographs, the award was granted posthumously to four members of the Muslim Prohić family.
The award was presented in Bosnia on 29 May 2018, as that is where the deed occurred. Present at the ceremony were Aviva (Nadica) and her husband Louis, plus Egon and Miriam Sonnenschein with members of their family.
There were also 35 descendants of the Prohić family. Ambassadors of Israel, Romania, Greece, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Slovakia were also present. There were many international media outlets reporting on this momentous occasion of how a Muslim family came to protect a young Jewish child. The four names of the Prohić family will be engraved in a special place at Yad Vashem forever.
In a conversation I had with Aviva Fox, now a successful teacher at Kesser Torah College, she concluded by saying “I was lucky to be among amazing people, the Prohić family.”
It should be noted that a similar Yad Vashem award was presented to the family of Aboriginal elder William Cooper of the Yorta Yorta tribe, who just weeks after Kristallnacht in 1938, led a delegation to the German consulate in Melbourne to deliver a petition condemning the Nazi treatment of the Jews.
Note: It is a condition that a recipient of this honour must not be Jewish, must have put themselves in danger while doing a great deed, and no money or compensation could have been paid for the action taken. This award is called the “Righteous Among the Nations” which is the highest award by Yad Vashem in Israel.