"He Actually Saved 40 Souls"
Georges Dilsizian and his son André-Gustave
Georges Dilsizian fled to France in the end of the 19th Century because of the Turkish persecution of the Armenians. He got married and had thirteen children. His son André married Lea Albohair, whose Jewish family had immigrated to France from Turkey. In 1942 the couple had a daughter, Liliane.
During the German occupation of France, Georges Dilsizian and his son André-Gustave hid Lea's relatives – members of the Leon and Savi families.
Caroline (Leon) Elbaz' father served in the French Army when the war broke out, and was taken prisoner by the Germans. Her mother sent the children to a nanny, but decided to return them to Paris because they were badly treated and the nanny demanded that they would be baptized. Caroline's brothers were sent to another place, and she stayed with her mother. The deportations of the Jews in Paris began in summer 1942. While Caroline was at the home of her grandparents, Samuel & Kalo Savi, the French police knocked at the door. The frightened grandparents did not open the door. Caroline remembers hearing the concierge tell the policemen that the family was not at home, to which the agents responded that they would return the following day. The grandparents rushed to the apartment of Caroline's mother, who in turn went in great panic to "Aunt Lulu" and her husband André Dilsizian. It was André who suggested that the grandparents hide at his father's home in Brunoy. Since the grandparents did not speak a word of French, it was decided that Caroline would join them and serve as an interpreter. It was André who took the three to his father's home, where they were hidden until liberation.
Georges prepared a hideout for them in his cellar. Caroline slept with her grandparents in the same bed. For one year, they did not leave the cellar, and Dilsizian would bring them food and other necessities. He also made sure that Caroline would continue to study. After one year in the dark cellar, Georges felt sorry for the young girl who never saw daylight. He told his neighbors that his granddaughter was going to stay with him, and sent her to a convent school. When she came home after school he would sit with her and supervise her doing her homework.
Reflecting on her rescuer, Caroline told Yad Vashem: "He would be pleased to know that thanks to him I had 5 children, 17 grand-children, and until now 18 great-grandchildren who all live in Israel. he actually saved 40 souls".
Other relatives of Lea Albohair-Dilsizian were also in need of a hiding place. Although being married to a Jewish wife put him in a risky position and despite the fact that they had a baby daughter, André Dilsizian did not hesitate and hid his wife's courisn – Ida and Corinne Sevi – in his home in Montachet.
Liliane de Toledo, daughter of André and Lea Dilsizian, told Yad Vashem that when her grandfather witnessed the persecution of the Jews during the German occupation, it brought back the memories of the persecution of the Armenians and the genocide of which his people had been victim. "The fact that a people was once again persecuted by the official authorities painfully reminded him of what the Armenians had endured 25 years earlier."
Georges Dilsizian passed away in 1946. His son André Gustav died in 1971.
On 22 February 2011 Yad Vashem recognized Georges Dilsizian and his son André-Gustav as Righteous Among the Nations.