Remembering the French Jew Who Saved Hundreds of Children during the Holocaust

Georges Loinger, who died on Friday at the age of one-hundred-eight, had distinguished himself as a runner in France before World War II; after his country fell to Nazi Germany, he naturally began to teach physical education at a home for Jewish refugees. Once the fate of these children became clear, Loigner began devising a number of schemes to sneak them into Switzerland, and set to work carrying them out. The Times of Israel reports:

A talented athlete and cousin of the famous mime and fellow Resistance member Marcel Marceau, the Jewish Loinger would smuggle the children in small groups across the Franco-Swiss border. One ruse involved dressing children up as mourners and taking them to a cemetery whose wall abutted the French side of the border. With the help of a gravedigger’s ladder the “mourners” would clamber over the wall and head for the border just feet away. . . .

The children he saved, whose parents had been killed or sent to Nazi concentration camps, were under the responsibility of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), a Jewish children’s aid society founded in St. Petersburg in 1912. . . .

In 1940, while serving with the French army, Loinger was taken prisoner by German forces and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. Due to his blond hair and blue eyes, his captors did not suspect that he was Jewish and he managed to escape and return to France and join the OSE. Between April 1943 and June 1944, OSE workers and other rescuers helped hundreds of children escape to Switzerland across the lightly-guarded border. Loinger alone is credited with saving at least 350 children.

Some 75,000 Jews, including many children, were deported from German-occupied France in World War II, in most cases with the active cooperation of the French authorities. Nearly all died in extermination camps.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: French Jewry, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Switzerland, Vichy France

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam