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Yad Vashem to Honor French Righteous Among the Nations Wednesday

Holocaust Survivor to Attend Ceremony

27 December 2011

On Wednesday December 28, 2011, Yad Vashem will hold a ceremony posthumously honoring Georges Dilsizian and his son André-Gustave Dilsizian, as Righteous Among the Nations from France. André-Gustave’s daughter Liliane de Toledo will accept the medal and certificate of honor on her father and grandfather’s behalf. The event will take place in the presence of the survivor, Caroline Elbaz, representatives of the French and Armenian Embassies, family and friends.

A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 10:30 a.m. followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate in the Synagogue at Yad Vashem. The events will take place in French (with simultaneous translation to Hebrew). The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations dept. 02 644 3410.

The Rescue Story

Georges Dilsizian was born in Armenia and in the early 19th century immigrated to France, where his 13 children were born. His son, André-Gustave married Lea Albohair, a daughter of Jewish immigrants from Turkey. In 1942 their daughter Lilian was born. George Dilsizian felt he could not remain indifferent to the suffering of the Jewish people, especially having witnessed the suffering of the Armenians, and together with his son set out to help the extended family of Lea Albohair. After her husband Raphaël, a French soldier, was taken prisoner in the early days of World War II, Reina Leon, Lea’s sister, was left alone with her children. She sent her children to a nanny outside of Paris, however they returned due to the terrible way in which they were treated and the nanny’s insistence that they be baptized. The boys in the family were sent to alternative hiding places while their sister Caroline stayed with her mother.

With the onset of deportations from Paris in March 1942, the Germans arrived to arrest Caroline’s grandparents, Samuel and Kalo Sevy. Caroline was with them at home at the time. The doorwoman told the Germans they were not at home and the Germans said they would return the next today. Reina turned to Lea and André for help; they turned to Georges and without hesitation he agreed to hide Samuel and Kalo. As her grandparents did not speak French, Caroline was sent along to act as interpreter. André took care of bringing the couple to his father’s home in Brunoy, in southeast Paris. Georges looked after Caroline’s education, first teaching her at home and later, after telling neighbors she was his granddaughter, sending her to the nearby nun’s school, while doing homework with her every night.

Caroline and her grandparents Samuel and Kalo Sevy, remained with Georges until the liberation of France in August 1944. Caroline’s cousins, Ida and Corinne Sevy were sheltered in André-Gustave’s home in Montacher.

Georges Dilsizian passed away in 1946; and André-Gustave died in 1971. On February 22, 2011 the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations decided to recognized Georges Dilsizian and André-Gustave Dilsizian as Righteous Among the Nations.