A ceremony posthumously honoring Angele Larose from Villers-Poterie, Belgium, as Righteous Among the Nations took place last week at Yad Vashem. The ceremony was attended by Holocaust survivor Tova Silverstein, who was rescued by Larose; Tova’s extended family; and Belgium’s ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. John Cornet d’Elzius. After a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, Director of the Department of the Righteous Among the Nations Irena Steinfeldt presented the medal and certificate of honor to André Larose, grandson of Angele Larose. Afterwards, the inscription of Angele Larose’s name was unveiled in Yad Vashem’s Garden of the Righteous. Mr. Larose came from Belgium especially to attend the ceremony.
“During World War II, saving a Jewish life meant risking your own life, and the fact that the Larose family stood shoulder to shoulder to hide a little Jewish girl plus many Resistance fighters are a testament to the righteousness and strength of this incredible family,” said Tanya Klein, Mrs. Silverstein’s daughter, at the event. “Just look around this room, and you are looking at souls that came down to earth because of the strength and conviction of one incredible family. A whole tribe has been born because of the bravery of one woman.”
Before the war, Hirsh and Esther Lowenbraun, emigrants from Poland, settled in Charlerio, Belgium, together with their two daughters, Sala and Matylda. Tova was born in Belgium in 1938. In 1942, Sala was arrested and deported on the first transport from Belgium to Poland. In an attempt to save Matylda and Tova, Esther brought them to the Saint Joseph Hospital and Convent. There, she asked the Mother Superior, Sister Julienne Aneuse, to hide the girls. Before leaving, Esther instructed Matylda to recite Krias Shema daily with her younger sister, in order not to forget their Jewish heritage.
In 1943, Esther decided to move the girls to a safer location. Tova was taken to the farm of Angele Larose in the village of Villers-Poterie. The Larose family treated Tova well, and the little girl enjoyed the quiet life of the village, especially delighting in the animals. Occasionally, Esther would visit, but, as Tova told Yad Vashem, “I didn’t remember her as my mother, just a woman who visited and brought me a doll.”
Reb Hirsh and Esther also managed to survive, hiding with the Belgian Underground. At the end of the war, the family was reunited and immigrated to the United States.
“I look at my family and I see a miracle,” said Tova Silverstein at the ceremony. “Angele saved my life by her actions… my parents understood what they owed her. I did not, because I was too young. Now, however, I fully understand, and I appreciate her courage, strength and humanity.”
“Who would have thought I would be talking about my grandmother here in Jerusalem?” mused André Larose after receiving the certificate and medal. “Her name will forever be remembered at Yad Vashem. I am very moved to be here. It’s wonderful to see Tova and all of her family.”