Anu SidhuMrs. FraizerEnglish Period:3January 27 2018 A person’s true colors will always shine through in the darkest of times. This has been adage people have used to portray human nature for generations upon generation. A saying like this could not be truer in a time like World War ?. During the Holocaust many people from other countries outside of Germany and Poland saw how cruel, and disgusting the Holocaust truly was. These people were of many ethnicities, backgrounds and religions. An example of a person who went out their way to help people who were in dangers way during the Holocaust and get them to safety were Joseph André. Joseph André was a Catholic priest from Belgium who saved over 200 children during the Holocaust. We must first understand what millions of innocent people went through in the horrific events known as the Holocaust to fully grasp the importance of what Joseph André did. Belgium was captured by Nazi Germany in the year 1940. The true beginning of the Holocaust was when on January 10, 1933, Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. But it was only after the previous president, President Paul Von Hindenburg, passed and Hitler named himself supreme leader of Germany. Hitler created his propaganda while he was in jail for treason for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch. He called it “Mein Kampf” translated to My Struggles in English. In this he explained that his idea of “racial purity” in the German population which he called Aryan. He believed that this pure race needed space to expand and grow. After he was self-appointed the supreme leader of Germany he tortured and killed many of his opponents to send the message of strength to the people living in Germany. Hitler began sending messages to Jewish people of Germany. Nazi rallies were held in public. Many rallies had symbolic acts behind them. For example the burning of books written by Jewish people and anyone who wasn’t considered racially pure by the Germans. The termination of Jews began officially on September 1939 when Germans began their occupation of Poland and forced thousands of Polish Jews into small uncomfortable ghettos in the city. Jewish people were forced to live in horrible conditions. There was no running water and no sewage system which made the area infested with different types of diseases. Jewish people could not find jobs making it so that people died of starvation daily. This came to an end when in 1941 the German government transported hundreds of Jewish people at a time from ghettos to death camps. The first mass gassing was held at a camp called Belzec where people who were considered the most detrimental to society were killed. These included young children who were not old enough to do any hard labor, old people who were too weak to do anything on their and the disabled who the Nazi party considered a waste of space. All of these people were not deemed “worthy” of life by the Germans. Women and children were the next killed since they could not do any hard manual labor. Everyone else was sent to labor camps where most would die of disease and starvation. In total, about 6 million Jewish people were mu as a result of Nazi Propaganda. Joseph André was a priest who lived in Namur, Belgium during the Nazi occupation and saved over 200 Jewish children. In the year, 1940 Germany invaded Belgium. There were 100,000 Jewish people who occupied Belgium during the time of the invasion, an estimated 20,000 were refugees who had previously run away from Germany to find a safe place to live. Germans began deporting people from Belgium to death camps and labor camps in Poland and Germany. Only men and teens who declared a profession were sent to labor camps but women and children were killed. The Belgian government started a secret underground organization called Comité de Défense des Juifs translated to the Belgian Committee of the Defense of Jews. The organization worked with the Belgian resistance against Germany. The organization was focused on mainly children. Joseph Andre worked with the Comité de Défense des Juifs. He went to the organization and stated that the doors of his church would always be open for anyone who needed to escape. Joseph Andre was true to his words and would never turn anyone down when they came to him. He made arrangements for children to be taken to monasteries, convents and private homes where the children could stay. Many children would tell him about their experiences and how they had lost their parents to the cruelty of the Nazi army. Some children even told him how they thought it was somewhat a curse to be born Jewish. After hearing these words from the young children, Joseph André began encouraging them to continue practicing any part of their religion that they could recall their parents teaching them. He did anything he could to make sure that they did not forget about their heritage. On the day of Passover, he helped the nuns who also stayed at the church make a traditional meal for the children living at the church. Joseph André also made the wellbeing of the children his top priority. Whenever any of the children fell ill, he made sure they got the proper medical treatment by creating a fake name for them. Whenever one of the children missed their parents who were also in hiding, he made sure they were able to see them. He spent most of his time finding homes for the kids often traveling to remote villages and other churches to find someone suitable to take in some of the children and even after he found someone he would visit the children to make sure they were being taken care of. The threat of a Nazi raid at the church was constant, as he lived across from the Gestapo. To prevent the children from being caught he made sure he had somewhere to go if there was an emergency. With the help of his neighbor, André built an escape route in case there was a Nazi raid in the middle of the night. After the Gestapo became suspicious of what he is doing and threatens to imprison him Joseph André went into hiding until his hometown was liberated by the Allies in 1944. After Belgium had been liberated, Joseph André continued his work and continued to help the children. He helped many of them look for their parents and let anyone who didn’t have anywhere else to go stay at the church up until 1945 when the remaining children were taken to a Jewish organization in 1945 a year after Belgium’s liberation. In 1967 Joseph André was honored in Israel. He received one of the highest honors of the country he was put on the List of Righteous and had a tree planted in the Garden of Righteous in Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is Israel’s national holocaust remembrance museum. Being named righteous is one of the single most important honors you can receive and is a very high honor for the Israeli government. He was able to see many of the children he had helped. He is remembered by many for his rescue work. He chose to live his life poor and was never greedy. He shared everything he had with the children and encouraged them to continue their faith. He never tried converting them and openly accepted their faith. Joseph André was a Catholic priest who saved the lives of more than 200 children during the Holocaust. He was a Catholic priest who gave up his own luxuries to help those in need of his help. André encouraged Jewish children who were in hiding to continue practicing their religion. He was honored for his help by Yad Vashem. He revealed what kind of person truly was in the darkest of times. Joseph André will always be remembered as a hero in the eyes of the world. Works Cited Paldiel, Mordecai. The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. KTAV Publ. House, 1993.
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