When the Nazis marched into Belgium on May 28, 1940, Andree Geulen was only 18 years old. In the following year she became a teacher at the Gaty de Gamont School, a boarding school for girls in Brussels. In the summer of 1942 her Jewish students were ordered to wear yellow stars and in an alarmingly short time some of the girls began to disappear. Realizing the imminent danger, our budding heroine, having just celebrated her 20th birthday, decided to join the secret Comité des Juifs or Jewish Defense Committee. The group was comprised of Jews and non-Jews who committed themselves to hiding Jewish children in monasteries and convents, on farms, and with individual families.
For the next two years, Andree did the dangerous and wrenching work of visiting Jewish homes and convincing parents to give up their children to complete strangers. She herself was interrogated and forced to take an assumed name, but by liberation in 1944 she had managed to hide more than 300 children! Her coded ledgers allowed some children to be reunited with parents and others to be sent to surviving relatives. She survived the war and in fact lived to be 100 years old! Describing her war years, she said, “Everything was urgent. I had some addresses, and I saw it as a race between myself and the Gestapo — who would get to the family first.” Just imagine — a young girl racing the Gestapo for the lives of unknown children! Andree Geulen was honored as Righteous Among the Nations in 1989 and was awarded honorary citizenship of the State of Israel in 2007.
Andree on the left.