Thursday, October 15, 2015

Courage, Strength and Humanity

"I look at my family and I see a miracle!" exclaimed Tova at the ceremony at Yad Vashem on Monday. "It's marvelous to be here" she said with a big smile on her face.  Tova was attending a special ceremony honoring the late Angele Larose. Angele saved Tova's life during the war by hiding her from the Nazis. During an emotional speech, Tova expressed her gratitude to AndrĂ© and his family who were attending the ceremony honoring their late grandmother for her wartime heroism. Tova reminisced about many happy memories she had from living on the farm and came to personally thank Angele's grandson for rescuing her. "Angele saved my life by her actions…my parents understood what they owed her. I did not because I was too young. Now, however I fully understand and appreciate her courage, strength and humanity."
Before the war, Hersch and Esther Lowenbraun emigrated from Poland to Charlerio, Belgium together with their two daughters; Sala (born 1925) and Matylda (born 1929). Their third daughter, Theresa-Tova, was born in Belgium in 1938.  Sala was arrested and deported with the first transport from Belgium to Poland in 1942.  In an attempt to save their two remaining daughters, Esther brought both Matylda and Theresa-Tova to the Saint Joseph Hospital and Convent. There, she asked the Mother Superior, Sister Julienne Aneuse, to hide the girls. Before leaving Esther instructed Matylda to recite the "Shema" prayer with her younger sister Tova in order not to forget their Jewish heritage. 

In 1943, Esther decided to move the girls to a safer location. Tova was taken to the farm of Angele Larose in the village of Villers-Poterie. The Larose family treated Tova well, and Tova benefited from the quiet life of the village, enjoying the animals. Occasionally, Esther would visit but, as Tova told Yad Vashem, "I didn't remember her as my mother, just a woman who visited and brought me a doll." Tova would accompany the Larose family to church every week, and at a certain stage asked the Priest to convert to Christianity. The Priest told her she would be able to do so when she was older. At the end of the war, Esther came to get her daughter and along with Hersch and Matylda, they immigrated to the United States. 

AndrĂ© was also very moved by the experience. "Who would've thought I would be talking about my grandmother here in Jerusalem. Her name will forever be remembered at Yad Vashem. It's wonderful to see Tova and all of her family."  

On March 16, 2015, Yad Vashem recognized Angele Larose and Sister Julienne Aneuse as Righteous Among the Nations.

Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Department of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem concluded the ceremony by noting that "not only were the Righteous extremely courageous for risking their lives to save others, but also the survivors themselves are remarkable as hiding is an enormous challenge. We can only admire them."

For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations:

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