2005-04-08 / Community

Holocaust Survivor Shares Portrait Of Pope With St. Francis

By Howard Schwach


Neponsit resident Martin Kogut (left), who is a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, loaned this portrait of Pope John II to St. Francis de Sales Church. With Kogut is the church’s pastor, Monsignor Martin Geraghty. Neponsit resident Martin Kogut (left), who is a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, loaned this portrait of Pope John II to St. Francis de Sales Church. With Kogut is the church’s pastor, Monsignor Martin Geraghty. According to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., 97,247 Czech Jews died at Terezin, better known as Theresienstadt, the “Model Ghetto,” where Nazi’s took the Red Cross to see the humanity of their death camps.

Of that number, 15,000 were children. Only 132 young people were still alive when the camp was liberated at the end of World War II.

Martin Kogut of Neponsit was one of that fortunate 132 Jewish youth who survived the camp. His six brothers, his sister and his parents all died in the camps.

“I was the youngest,” he says sadly. “And, the only one to survive.” All in all, Kogut was in seven camps, but was liberated from Terezin. Kogut, 82, often visits Paris, France, where he has a friend who is a noted painter. About three months ago, Kogut was visiting his friend, Genevieve DeMarceules, who had just completed a large portrait of Pope John Paul II. “I fell in love with both the painting and the person,” Kogut told The Wave this week. DeMarceules presented him with the painting and he brought it home to add to the large collection of art he has in his home.

When the Pope died, however, he decided that the picture should be seen by others in the community so he brought it to Monsignor Martin Geraghty of St. Francis de Sales Church on Beach 129 Street. “I believe that the best place for the portrait is in a church,” he said. “I loved the Pope,” he said, pointing to a recent newspaper article that noted the young priest who was to become Pope cared for a 14-year-old Jewish girl, a homeless victim of the Holocaust after the war. “I’m glad that the picture is hanging in a church for now.”

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