Dina Poljakoff

Dina Poljakoff (1919–2005) was a Finnish nurse. Despite being Jewish, she was offered the Iron Cross by Nazi Germany during World War II.[1]

Dina Poljakoff
Photo of Dina Poljakoff.jpg
Born1919 (1919)
Died2005 (aged 85–86)
Years activec. Early 1940s
Known forRefusing Iron Cross
Medical career
ProfessionMilitary hospital nursing assistant
InstitutionsLotta Svärd
AwardsIron Cross, 2nd Class (refused)

A native of Finland, Poljakoff was studying dentistry before the outbreak of World War II.[2] During the war, she worked as a nurse for Lotta Svärd, an auxiliary organization associated with the White Guard. She served in the front lines of combat during World War II alongside German military units.[3] She was not the only Jewish nurse to perform such service; her cousin, Chaje Steinbock, also worked as a nurse and accumulated a scrapbook of heartfelt messages of thanks from German soldiers who had been under her care.[1]

Poljakoff made quite an impression on her German patients, to the point that she was nominated for the Iron Cross. She was one of three Finnish Jews to be offered the award; like the other two (Leo Skurnik and Salomon Klass), she did not accept the award.[3] Unlike the other two, she did not ask for her name to be withdrawn from the recipient list, and on the day of the awards ceremony she checked the display table to verify that her award was there, before leaving without it.[4]

Poljakoff later immigrated to Israel,[5] where she died in 2005.


  1. ^ a b Kendall, Paul (9 March 2014). "The Jews who fought for Hitler: 'We did not help the Germans. We had a common enemy'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 18 August 2019. Retrieved 18 August 2019.
  2. ^ Simon, John B. (2019). Strangers in a Stranger Land. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 409. ISBN 9780761871507 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b Haarmann, Harald (2016). Modern Finland. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 9781476662022 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Simon, pg. 3
  5. ^ Reime, Hannu (8 October 2010). "Un-Finnish business". Haaretz. Retrieved 29 September 2019.