Jewish Hero Dies Aged 108

Georges Loinger was a fighter in the French resistance during World War Two. His bravery and ingenuity helped save more than 350 Jewish children from the Nazis by enabling them to escape from France into Switzerland. He died on Friday at the age of 108.

One method he used was to take the children to a football pitch on the border with Switzerland, kick a football over the frontier and get the children to chase it. He explained:

“I spotted a football pitch that was on the border. It was made up of fences
two-and-a-half metres high. I saw that there was nobody … I made the children play,
I told some of them to lift up the fences and I passed the ball.”

Georges Loinger receiving his medal Georges receiving the Legion d’Honneur in 2005 (photo: AFP)

Awards for his heroism included the Resistance Medal, the Military Cross and the Legion d’Honneur.

Early in the war he served with the French Army, but he was captured by the Germans in 1940 and sent to a prisoner of war camp in Germany. But it seems that his blond hair and blue eyes prevented his captors from suspecting that he was Jewish. He managed to escape, returned to France and joined the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) – a Jewish children’s aid society founded in St Petersburg in 1912.

Another ploy he used was to dress the children as mourners and take them to a cemetery near the border, arranging for the mayor of a French border town to house the children until it was time for them to go. Using a gravedigger’s ladder the children would clamber over a wall and then cross the border just feet away from the cemetery.

He told the Tribune Juive that he was successful in his endeavours to save children because:

“I did not look Jewish. Sport made me the opposite of an anguished Jew.”