He Saved Hundreds of Jews. Some by Throwing Them a Ball

Georges Loinger was a French resistance hero
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2018 3:40 PM CST
He Saved Hundreds of Jews. Some by Throwing Them a Ball
Ruth Fayon, left, David Planer, center, and Georges Loinger, survivors of Holocaust, join in a prayer during a ceremony to mark Israel's Holocaust day at the Place de la Nation, outside the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, April 20, 2009.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

A French resistance hero who helped hundreds of Jewish children escape during World War II has died in Paris at the age of 108, AFP reports. Georges Loinger, acclaimed for his athletic ability and savvy schemes, drummed up various ways of getting children across the French border into Switzerland. In an interview earlier this year, Loinger recalled training children to run when he threw a ball for them to chase near the border near Geneva: "I threw the ball a hundred meters toward the Swiss border and told the children to run and get the ball," he tells Tablet. "They ran after the ball and this is how they crossed the border. This is how their lives were saved."

Credited with personally saving at least 350 children, Loinger also got young Jews out through a border cemetery by dressing them as mourners, and calmly persuaded German officers on a train that he was transporting children who had been injured by shelling. Jewish himself, Loinger credited his athletic, natural gait with helping him fool German and Italian occupiers: "I did not look Jewish," he says. "Sport made me the opposite of an anguished Jew." His brave efforts were made in concert with the OSE, a non-profit society founded to help Jewish families in need. Well after the war, Loinger was given the Resistance Medal, the Military Cross, and the Legion d'honneur. He also played a role in helping Holocaust survivors reach Palestine when it was under British mandate. (Read about a modern-day Jewish sect accused of kidnapping children.)

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