Jewish History Soundbites

Jewish Saviors of the Holocaust Part I: Monsieur & the Belgian Orphans

July 5, 2022

Jewish History Soundbites is proud to launch a special series entitled ‘Jewish Saviors of the Holocaust’. It will explore the narratives of Jews under Nazi occupation risking their lives to save others during the Holocaust. Each unique profile will explore another story, angle and individual (or group of individuals) who though their own lives were at risk still did everything in their power to save others.

The series opens with the story of Yona Tiefenbrunner, known to the orphans he saves as ‘Monsieur’. Born in Germany, he arrived as a refugee in Belgium shortly before the war’s outbreak. He initially opened an orphanage at his own expense in order to assist German Jewish refugee children. With the Nazi occupation of Belgium and the subsequent deportations in 1942, his Brussels orphanage emerged as an island of rescue, as the Nazis miraculously allowed the orphanage to operate and spare the children from deportation to the east. Maintaining a semblance of normalcy under increasingly challenging conditions, Yona managed to care for the orphans' physical and religious welfare until liberation. Following the war, the orphanage relocated to Antwerp and cared for children survivors until its closing in 1960. 


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