Chrystman was an evangelical Christian, a Polish Volksdeutsche, who managed the Kara-Hortensia Glass factory in Piotrkow-Trybunalski. He worked closely with Solomon Gomberg, a Jew from Lodz, to supervise the factory’s Jewish personnel. A large number of the Jews chosen to work in the factory were little more than children. They were given special designations as “essential workers” to protect them from Gestapo selections.
Inside the factory, Chrystman created a special children’s shelter for 8-10 children, ages 2-10, who were too young to work. Franka Berk, a 16-year-old Jewess, was assigned the job of looking after the children. One of the children saved in the shelter would later grow up to become the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav. Israel Lau.
Chrystman never explained his motivation for saving Jewish life to the Jews in the factory. His actions were mysterious, as when he gave the Jews the day off for Yom Kippur, he went to the Jewish service and told the astonished worshipers, “I will do what I can to help you.” Chrystman risked his life, and that of his family’s, by his actions. He could have been denounced by any
disgruntled Jew or Christian. He did what he did anyway. As the Russians neared, he fled to the West, eventually resettling in Brazil, where he died in his 60’s.
Rheinhold Chrystman has been recognized and honored by the Anne Frank International Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho and the Gariwo Garden of the Righteous Worldwide in Milan, Italy.
Erected 2021 by Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation.