Andrée Geulen-Teachers Who Rescued Jews During the Holocaust
ANDREE GEULEN – BELGIUM
Andrée Geulen was teaching in a school in Brussels, when one day in the summer of 1942 some of her students arrived at school with the compulsory yellow star sewn on their clothes. Having her students marked and humiliated in this way enraged Geulen, and she instructed the entire class – Jews and non-Jews alike – to wear aprons to school, so as to cover the yellow stars.
This first close encounter with the persecution of the Jews convinced Geulen that she had to act. While continuing to teach, she became a central activist in the clandestine Comité de Défence des Juifs (Jewish Defense Committee), where Jews and non-Jews joined forces to hide Jewish children and save them from deportation and death. She had the difficult task of convincing parents to part from their children so that they could be brought to hiding places; she would then undertake the perilous transfer of the children to the families that would be hiding them. She continued to teach at the Gaty de Gamont School, where twelve Jewish students were being sheltered.
In May 1943, the school was raided in the middle of the night by the Germans, and the students were brutally dragged out of bed in order to have their identities checked. The Jewish children were arrested, and the teachers interrogated. When asked by one of the Germans if she wasn’t ashamed to teach Jews, Andrée Geulen bravely retorted: ‘Aren’t you ashamed to make war on Jewish children?’.
Fortunately, Geulen managed to evade arrest. She left the school that night, and went to warn her Jewish students of the imminent danger. Despite this frightening incident, Geulen expanded her resistance work and embarked on a clandestine existence, living under an assumed name. Until the end of the war Geulen hid hundreds of children, keeping coded records of their original names and their places of shelter. This enabled the return of the children to their families or relatives when the war ended.