Belgian teacher and a member of the Belgian Resistance during World War II Andrée Geulen-Herscovici passed away on Wednesday in Ixelles, Belgium at the age of 100.
Geulen was recognized in 1989 with the honorific Righteous Among the Nations, and in 2007 was granted honorary Israeli citizenship in a ceremony at Yad Vashem, for saving over one thousand Jewish children during the Holocaust at great risk to her own life.
Geulen was a schoolteacher in Brussels, and when she was 21, one of the students in her classroom appeared with the yellow star.
She then instructed all her students to wear aprons to school to cover the humiliating marker imposed on the Jews. Through her acquaintance with Belgian spy Victor Martin, Galen learned what happened to Jews captured by the Nazis, and from that moment on, joined the efforts to save Jews.
Geulen met Ida Sterno, a Jewish friend at the Belgian Jewish Defense Committee (CDJ), who needed a non-Jewish partner to help her escort Jewish children to hiding.
Geulen was given a code name and had to leave her parents' house to move to the school where she worked as a teacher. At the initiative of the school principal Odile Obart, 12 Jewish children were hidden in the school.
In May 1943, the Germans raided the school in the middle of the night. The Jewish students were arrested and Geulen was taken in for questioning.
Odile Obart and her husband were arrested and sent to concentration camps in Germany, where they perished. Both were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the nations.
After being interrogated by the Germans, Geulen told all the Jewish students she knew about the raid and warned them not to go back to school. She then rented an apartment under an alias and shared it with Sterno. The work with the rescue organizations was maintained through secret mailboxes.
For more than two years, Geulen gathered children and moved them to hideouts in Christian homes and monasteries, with a false identity.
She made sure that the families were able to pick up the children, and continued to visit them and take care of their needs. Most of the parents of the children who Geulen saved were murdered during the Holocaust.
Between spring 1943 and September 1944, Geulen escorted more than 300 Jewish children to the different hiding places.
"These dangerous tasks are also morally painful because these children lived the pain of separation," Guelen once said in an interview. "It was the hardest moment for me. I had to take the kids from their homes. But the children didn't cry. The older ones thought of their mother, and the little ones trusted me instantly when I told them we were going to a village to see the little cows and chicken," she said.
One of the children who had been saved, David Inowlocki, who headed The Hidden Child organization, once said: "It's like we've always known each other. She's part of my family. She helped us live and helped us make peace with humanity. For those who didn't live in hiding and didn't experience it, will find it difficult to understand how grateful we are for the sacrifices she made."
Israel's ambassador to Belgium Emmanuel Nahshon said on Thursday that Geulen's death is very sad news.
"She was a true hero of humanity, and we will carry her memory forever," he said. "She was an amazing and wonderful woman who saved many Jews during World War ll."
"We received the news of Andree Geulen-Herscovici passing with deep regret," the Belgium Jewish community said in a statement.
"We are all orphans because we just lost a lady who showed exemplary behavior in the face of Nazi barbarism. She did not look away when the Jews needed help, and she saved them from death. If there were more women and men like Andrée Geulen-Herscovici, the world would be a better place."