03 November 2011
On 03/11/2011 a ceremony was held at Yad Vashem to posthumously honor Mother Marie-Veronique of Belgium as Righteous Among the Nations. Mother Marie-Veronique, née Philomene Smeers, served as Mother Superior of the Sacred Heart of Mary convent in La Hulpe, Belgium from 1929 until 1951.
Sister Marie-Justine, who lived in the convent during the period of rescue, and Sister Paule accepted the medal and certificate of honor on behalf of the late Mother Superior. The presentation was made by Israel Jacky Offen who is a member of the Commission For the Designation Of the Righteous Among the Nations.
In May 1940, the Germans invaded Belgium and in the summer of 1942 the deportation of the Jews to the extermination camps began. During the German occupation, Mother Marie-Veronique sheltered Jewish girls in the convent, rescuing them from deportation to the death camps.
Simone Suzanne Berman née Najman was born in Brussels in 1931. In 1942, when the deportations began, the Najman family went into hiding. After a year, Simone's parents decided to ask the nuns to shelter her in the convent. Simone's father remained in hiding during the war, but her mother died on January 1, 1944. After liberation, Simone immigrated to the United States.
Ilse Frumer née Steiner was born in Vienna in 1929 and moved to Brussels with her parents. After Ilse's father was deported to Auschwitz in January 1942, her mother asked Mother Marie-Véronique to accept her daughter into the convent's dormitory. Ilse's mother and father were both murdered during the Holocaust and Ilse remained at the convent until 1950 when she was 21 years old.
Conditions during the war were very difficult. During the winter, the nuns chopped down trees from their garden in order to heat the convent. Although food was scarce, the nuns shared what little they had with the girls under their care.
On December 21, 2010, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem decided to award Mother Merie-Véronique the title of Righteous Among the Nations.