French resistence fighter Georges Loinger who saved hundreds of Jewish children during World War II died here on Friday at the age of 108.
Born into a Jewish family in 1910, Loinger was captured by the Nazis as German forces swept into France in 1940 when he was serving in the French army. However, his blond hair and blue eyes convinced the Germans that he was not Jewish, enabling him to escape from the German camp and return to France.
He then joined the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), a Jewish children’s aid organization, and started helping Jewish children whose parents had been killed or sent to concentration camps to escape across the border into neutral Switzerland in case they were discovered by the Nazis.
Loinger told the media in an interview earlier this year that he helped the children by “throwing a ball a hundred meters towards the Swiss border and told the children to run and get the ball.”
“They ran after the ball and this is how they crossed the border,” he said. It is estimated that Loinger personally has saved at least 350 children.
Some 75,000 Jews, including many children, were deported from German-occupied France during World War II, and most of them were killed at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.