The Rachel Borzykowski Award is handed out almost annually to a person whose work and personal commitment has contributed in a special way to the objective of the Sobibor Foundation, namely to increase awareness of the former extermination camp Sobibor and everything that happened there during the Second World War.
This token is named after the first wife of Jules Schelvis, the founder of our foundation and survivor of the Sobibor extermination camp, Rachel Borzykowski. She was born in Amsterdam on March 2, 1923.
Her parents emigrated to the Netherlands after the First World War because of anti-Semitism in Poland. They settled in Amsterdam. In 1921 their first daughter Hella was born, followed in 1923 by Rachel. Their third child, Herman, came into the world in 1927.
The family grew and prospered in prosperity and prosperity. The Borzykowski’s home in the Nieuwe Kerkstraat was full of activities. Books were read with friends and interested people, sometimes in Yiddish, but there were also exchanges of views on all kinds of subjects. The children grew up in this hospitable and warm environment. After primary school, Rachel became a seamstress at a gown studio.
On 10 May 1940, the war broke out in the Netherlands. Daily life under German occupation was almost normal for Jews in the beginning, but the ever-increasing anti-Jewish measures gradually put a heavy burden on their shoulders. That the measures would be the foreplay of the almost total decline of Judaism in the Netherlands could hardly be imagined.
It was precisely in those days that Jules and Rachel got to know each other. Through her work as a dressmaker, Rachel received an exemption in her identity card, which meant that she was temporarily deprived of deportation, while Jules working for the Lindenbaum Press, was fired as he was a Jew.
When in the autumn of 1941 it was announced that foreign Jews had to report ‘for work elsewhere’, this also applied to the children Borzykowski, even though they were born in the Netherlands. Rachel and Jules decided to marry on December 18, 1941, so that she would acquire the Dutch nationality and thus prevent deportation. But from July 15, 1942, both foreign and Dutch Jews were deported to Nazi-occupied Poland. Yet Rachel and Jules managed to keep it reasonable in Amsterdam until the day of 26 May 1943. On that day they were arrested by the German Ordnungspolizei in their home. The exemptions were suddenly no longer valid. Via the assembly point at the Jonas Daniël Meijerplein, they were driven by trams to the Muiderpoort station to arrive at the Westerbork transit camp in the evening. After six days of Westerbork, Rachel and Jules were deported to the unknown ‘east’. The final goal of the National Socialists was to kill us and 3,000 others in that transport in Sobibor. Jules was selected on arrival in Sobibor and was assigned to work elsewhere. Rachel was not that lucky and was murdered that same day.
The Sobibor Foundation and Jules Schelvis (during his life) commemorate her almost annually by handing out the Rachel Borzykowski Award, which comes with a sum of € 500, -.
The Rachel Borzykowski Award was received by:
- Janneke de Moei (2003)
- Ton Cales (2004)
- Florian Ross (2005)
- Eric Borrias (2007)
- Walter Wybrands (2008) – publisher of the books “Binnen de Poorten” en “Vernietigingskamp Sobibor ” by Jules Schelvis
- Dunya Breur (2010)
- Wim Boevink (2011)
- Doede Sijtsma (2012)
- Jan Vermaning (2013)
- Herman van Rens (2016)
- Marek Bem (2018)