Tue, Nov 05, 2019 - Page 7 News List

Holocaust survivors meet their savior 75 years later

AFP, JERUSALEM and LILLE, France

Melpomeni Dina Gianopoulou, center, poses with Holocaust survivors Yossi Mor and his sister Sarah Yanai, center left and center right, along with their descendants at the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Eyes brimming with tears, 92-year-old Melpomeni Dina Gianopoulou was on Sunday reunited with Jewish siblings she had helped hide from Nazis in her native Greece during World War II.

Holocaust survivor Sarah Yanai, 86, had tears in her eyes as she held Melpomeni’s hand.

“It is a very emotional feeling, I can’t describe it,” she said.

“We were hidden in her house. She saved all my family. Six persons ... you can’t imagine how dangerous it was for her, for her family, to keep us all,” she added. “What can I say. They saved our lives.”

The highly emotional meeting took place at the Hall of Names, in Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem, a memorial to millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

During WWII, Melpomeni and her two sisters first hid the Mordechai family in a mosque before moving them to their own home in Veria, a small town near Thessaloniki, where they stayed for two years.

Sarah’s brother Yossi Mor was barely two months old at the time.

He is now 77, but still carries with him stories he was told about their life in hiding.

Mor said their situation was “deteriorating” in the mosque, especially that of his small brother Shmuel, who had fallen ill.

However, he said the Greek sisters made a daring attempt to rescue him.

“They put him on their shoulders and they walked to the hospital in the middle of the night. It was quite far,” Mor said.

Some days later, the Greek sisters went back to the hospital to visit Shmuel, but found him covered with a white sheet.

“He was dead,” Mor said.

Yossi Dagan, one of Mor’s grandchildren, said he grew up hearing this story over and over again.

“For me, the three Greek sisters always symbolized heroism, a model of life,” said Dagan, 28.

On Sunday, Sarah and Yossi brought their children and grandchildren to meet their savior.

In all, more than 20 people, young and old, stood in front of the white-haired woman before hugging her, one by one.

“I would like to have saved more,” Melpomeni said in Greek.

In 1994, Yad Vashem honored Melpomeni and her sisters by granting them the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” given to those who helped save Jews during WWII.

In other developments, Yvette Lundy, a Resistance hero who helped Jews escape occupied France, survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps and went on to teach reconciliation, has died aged 103, authorities said on Sunday.

From a farming family in the champagne-growing region around Epernay, Lundy was a schoolteacher during the Nazi occupation and also worked at the town hall, a key job that allowed her to join a resistance network known as the Possum Escape Line.

From 1940, she supplied fake papers to Jews, men fleeing the Nazis’ forced labor program in Germany, and escaped prisoners of war.

However, the Gestapo caught up with her in June 1944, arresting Lundy, then 28, at her school.

She would be interned at Ravensbrueck about 80km north of Berlin, the only camp reserved for women and children.

On the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2017, she was elevated to the Legion of Honour’s second-highest level, that of Grand Officer.

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