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108-Year-Old French Hero Dies Having Saved Hundreds Of Jewish Children During World War II

Dominic Smithers

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108-Year-Old French Hero Dies Having Saved Hundreds Of Jewish Children During World War II

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Memorial de la Shoah/ Claude TRUONG-NGOC (Creative Commons)

A former resistance fighter who saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish children during the Second World War, has sadly died at the age of 108.

Born in 1910, Georges Loinger was a member of the French Resistance and fought against the Nazi occupation during the war.

He had served in the French army but was captured and taken as a prisoner by the German forces in 1940. However, due to the fact he had blonde hair, blue eyes, and was a talented sportsman, his captors didn't realise he was in fact Jewish.

Incredibly, Mr Loinger was able to escape, going on to join a Jewish children's aid society called the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), during which time he is believed to have helped more than 350 young children - many of whom had lost their parents during the war - escape to Switzerland.

According to reports, between April 1943 and June 1944, he and other members of the group smuggled Jewish youngsters across a poorly guarded border into Switzerland.

Georges Loinger used to roll a ball across the border and get children to follow it in order to escape. Credit: Claude TRUONG-NGOC (Creative Commons)
Georges Loinger used to roll a ball across the border and get children to follow it in order to escape. Credit: Claude TRUONG-NGOC (Creative Commons)

Speaking to Tablet magazine earlier this year, he described how they were able to do it.

One of his ingenious plans was to dress the children up as mourners and take them to the cemetery close to the boarder before smuggling them across.

Another ruse was slightly more simple.

He said: "I threw a ball a hundred metres towards the Swiss border and told the children to run and get the ball.

"They ran after the ball and this is how they crossed the border."

Speaking to Tribune Juive, Mr Loinger said he was able to help so many children and save so many lives because he didn't 'look Jewish'.

Mr Loinger died on Friday at the age of 108. Credit: Memorial de la Shoah/YouTube
Mr Loinger died on Friday at the age of 108. Credit: Memorial de la Shoah/YouTube

What had saved him during his time as a prisoner of war had saved hundreds of young lives.

He said: "Sport made me the opposite of an anguished Jew.

"I walked with great naturalness. Besides, I was rather pretty and therefore well-dressed."

The Holocaust Memorial Foundation of France said on its website that Mr Loinger, who passed away on Friday, was an 'exceptional man'.

As a result of his heroics he was awarded the Resistance Medal and the Legion d'Honneur as well as a number of other honours.

During the Second World War, 75,000 Jews were deported to death camps - many of them children. The majority never escaped the horrors of the Nazi extermination camps.

Topics: World News, Interesting, World War II

Dominic Smithers
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