Early in 1942, as World War II raged and the Nazis ramped up their murder of Europe’s Jews, five Jewish orphans were brought to a children’s home in the French town of Condom. Quakers had rescued the children — Helga Wolff, Leon Berliner, Manfred Berman, Helene Golubezyk, and Fleurette Zobermann — and left them in the care of M. Cavailhon and her sister, who ran the orphanage.
The next year, a Christian couple named Gabriel and Marie-Louise Lanoux learned of the five youngsters who had been orphaned during the Holocaust. Gabriel and Marie-Louise, who ran a store that sold food and underwear, began visiting the children, bringing them gifts and new clothes, and letting them stay at their own home on weekends.
But in the spring of 1944, the Lanouxes learned that the orphanage was to be handed over to the Nazi-allied Vichy authorities, who would surely send the children to their deaths. The couple whisked young Helga into their own house, and took the other children to other nearby families, where all five remained sheltered until the end of the war.
After World War II ended, Helga and Leon stayed in touch with Gabriel and Marie-Louise. And after the couple grew old and passed away, the Jews they had saved continued their friendship with their twin daughters, Marie-Louise and Marthe Andree. In 2005, the rescued children — themselves now quite aged — began petitioning Yad Vashem (Israel’s official Holocaust memorial) to recognize those who had saved them as Righteous Gentiles. This came to pass on December 26, 2007, when Gabriel and Marie-Louise Lanoux were named Righteous Among the Nations for the lives they had saved.Tags: Advocates and Allies