As a young schoolteacher in the 1940s, Andrée Geulen noticed that several of her students were missing from class one day. She soon learned that they and their families had been rounded up by the Gestapo. Shortly thereafter, Joseph Berger recounts, Geulen joined the clandestine Committee for the Defense of Jews, determined to help other children escape.
The work was not just treacherous but also emotionally wrenching. Parents had to agree to turn over their children to the committee’s escorts without being told where the young were being taken or whether the parents might ever see them again. Some parents were arrested mere hours after Ms. Geulen had picked up their children.
She estimated that from the fall of 1942 to September 1944, when Belgium was liberated by Allied forces, she found havens or hiding places for 300 to 400 Jewish children, ranging from newborns to teenagers. For that, she was honored in 1989 by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance and research center in Jerusalem, as one of the Righteous among the Nations, a recognition given to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi genocide. She was made an honorary citizen of Israel.
When she died at one hundred on May 31 in a Brussels nursing home, Ms. Geulen had been the last survivor of a cadre of twelve women who, working for the committee, together rescued some 3,000 Jewish children.