Saved by "Pepe" and "Meme" Artiguenave | IFCJ
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Saved by "Pepe" and "Meme" Artiguenave

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Lives: Elysée (1884 - 1985); Léontine (1885-1970)

Why you should know them: Elysée and Léontine Artiguenave were French farmers who took in underprivileged children in occupied France during World War II, and whose actions saved a young Jewish girl from the Holocaust.

The Artiguenaves were farmers in France, and Léontine, the wife, was a registered caregiver. This allowed the couple to take in children during the war. One of these children was six-year-old Fanny Koplewicz, a young Jewish girl whose mother suffered from tuberculosis and whose father had been imprisoned. The Artiguenaves could understand, as their two sons were also imprisoned by the Nazis for the duration of the war.

However, the elderly couple took in young Fanny as if she were their own. Their two daughters treated her as a little sister. Elysée, a veteran of WWI, convinced the town's mayor, also a veteran, not to register the girl as a Jew. The mayor agreed, and also promised to warn the couple in case of danger.

At one point, danger was very near, as the Nazis forced the family to allow two German soldiers to stay in their home and to keep military horses in their barn. But Elysée and Léontine did all they could to protect the little girl. At one point, Fanny's mother had her moved closer. But soon the violence of the war forced Fanny to return to the Artiguenave farmstead, losing contact with her mother. There Fanny stayed until the end of the war, raised as part of the Artiguenave family by "Pépé" and "Mémé," her adopted grandparents.

For their selfless actions in the face of grave danger that saved the life of young Fanny Koplewicz, Elysée and Léontine Artiguenave were named Righteous Among the Nations in 2004.

Tags: Stories , Inspiration

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