Israel posthumously honors Belgian couple who saved Jewish children in Holocaust

Joseph and Marie Andries saved two Jewish children during the Holocaust and have been awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

Israel on Monday honored Joseph and Marie Andries, a Belgian couple who saved two Jewish children during the Holocaust, and bestowed upon them the title of Righteous Among the Nations, people who risked their lives to save Jews during the cataclysmic period.

At Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, Chairman of the Commission for the Designation of Righteous Among the Nations Jacob Türkel presented Dr. Francoise Rampelberg, family member of Joseph and Marie Andries, with the medal and certificate of honor.

Holocaust survivor Benno Gerson, and Serge and Stefan Goldberg, sons of the late Anni Goldberg, attended the ceremony at Yad Vashem.

This tale of bravery begins in Germany, where following the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938, Luser-Ludwig and Pepi Gershonowitz decided to leave Germany. They first sent their daughter Anni to the Netherlands, and then followed with their son Benno. Eventually the family settled in Brussels, Belgium.

When the Nazis began to deport Jews from Belgium in 1942, the Gershonowitz family decided to separate from their children in order to save them. Seven-year-old Anni and five-year-old Benno were brought to the home of Joseph and Marie Andries in Anderlecht for safekeeping.

On September 24, 1942, Ludwig and Pepi were arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.

Several months later, the Andries family and the children moved to Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, where they remained until the end of the war. Joseph and Marie Andries were childless, and at some point separated; the two children remained with Marie, who continued to care for them lovingly. Benno remembers calling Marie Andries “Mamake” (mother in Flemish). Life was simple, and Marie sometimes received help from her relatives, the Rampelbergs, who provided her with some additional food.

After the war, contact was established with a relative of the Gershonowitz family in the United States, and in 1947 Anni and Benno left Marie Andries’ home and sailed to New York.

In 1983, shortly before Marie Andries passed away, Benno traveled to Belgium and visited his rescuer one last time.

On December 23, 2015, Yad Vashem posthumously recognized Marie and Joseph Andries as Righteous Among the Nations.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News