Lionel Rossler, 49, of Rebecq, Belgium, tried for years to find the family that hid his father and grandmother and saved their lives during the Holocaust. When he took to social media to ask for help, MyHeritage’s Marie Cappart responded — and thanks to her research, Lionel and his father, David, were able to meet the descendants of David’s rescuer in the very place where he hid them so many years ago.
Watch this profoundly moving reunion in the following video:
This is Lionel’s story:
My father, David Rossler, was born Daniel Langa in 1938, and his family lived in Brussels when the persecution of the Jewish community began. They moved several times over the course of the war, and at one point, his father and uncle were arrested and never came back. My father was a young child then, and he and his mother were taken in by the Catholic convent in Brussels; but then, the convent was raided, and they only escaped thanks to the brave actions of the Mother Superior (who was later granted the title of Righteous Among the Nations).
After their evacuation from the convent, my father and grandmother were taken in by the Bourlet family: Georges and his four young adult children, Paul, Jacques, Anne-Marie, and Christiane. The Bourlet family gave them shelter in Auderghem, one of the boroughs of Brussels, towards the end of the war in 1944.
My father recalls that at the end of the war, Georges Bourlet was afraid of being caught and denounced, so he quietly skipped work: without telling his family or even my grandmother, he called in sick and spent his days in a nearby cafe, coming home every night as though coming back from work. He never revealed this to his family, and it was only after the war that he mentioned it to my grandmother and my father.
Because of his heroic action, Georges was able to save the lives of my father and grandmother. Nine people were saved thanks to what he did; my brother, myself, and our children would not be here today if not for his courage and kindness.
After the war, my grandmother remarried, and my father took the last name of his stepfather, who was a survivor of Auschwitz. They moved to Austria and lost touch with the Bourlet family.
Searching for the rescuers
For many years, I tried to help my father find the Bourlet family, with no success. Finally, in January 2022, I tried my luck on a social media group, asking if anyone had any information about this family.
I received a response from Marie Cappart, Country Manager for MyHeritage in Belgium. She told me that she believed she could help me, and immediately got to work.
After browsing records and cross-referencing data, Marie found an Anne-Marie Bourlet, born in Auderghem in 1929. She discovered that this Anne-Marie married someone with the surname Dedoncker and had 5 children — all of them possibly still alive.
After a bit more research, Marie found Xavier, one of Georges Bourlet’s grandsons, and managed to contact him. She learned that Xavier had heard a little about this story, but not much.
From there, Marie was able to contact other descendants of Georges, including the ones who still owned the family home in Auderghem where Georges hid my father and grandmother. We had a wonderful idea: why don’t we all meet there?
And so we did. It was an incredibly emotional day for us. I was able to see, with my own eyes, the place where my father was kept safe from the Germans all those years ago. My father returned to the place where his life was saved for the first time in almost 80 years, and had the incredible opportunity to personally thank the descendants of his rescuer for all they did for him and for us. In Jewish tradition, there is a saying that “He who saves one life saves all of humanity”; Georges Bourlet saved humanity nine times over. We are submitting our testimony to Yad Vashem in hopes that he will be recognized for his heroism and granted the title of Righteous Among the Nations.
It was a day I will never forget, and I am very grateful to Marie and to MyHeritage for making it possible.
It’s important to my father for younger generations to hear his story and understand that there must be no more hate and no more war. The cost of war, as he experienced it, was too great. We hope and pray that this message will be heard, for the sake of all those still suffering from violence.
The post I Found Descendants of the Man Who Saved My Father from the Nazis appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.
Source: My Heritage