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Yad Vashem Recognizes the Late Father Alexandre Glasberg and His Brother Vila Glasberg as Righteous Among the Nations Brothers Used Relief Network to Save Hundreds of Jews in France

12 January 2004

At a ceremony today, Yad Vashem recognized the late Father Alexandre Glasberg and his late brother Vila Glasberg (Victor Vermont) as Righteous Among the Nations. The Glasberg brothers’ Certificates and Medals of Honor were received by a relative, IDF Major General (Res.) Yossef Geva. Speaking at the ceremony were Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev; Righteous Among the Nations Committee member, Dr. Lucien Lazare; IDF Major General (Res.) Yossef Geva; French Ambassador to Israel, Gerard Araud; former Cabinet Minister Yair Tzaban; and former Speaker of the Knesset, Shlomo Hillel. Among the attendees were Holocaust survivors from France.

The Glasberg brothers were born Jews in the early 1900s in Zhitmomir, Ukraine. Their parents had them baptized when they were children. At the beginning of the 1930s, the brothers emigrated to France, where Alexandre attended a seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1938. Following the German occupation, Glasberg lived in Lyon, where he helped found the Amitié Chrétienne organization, which provided protection to refugees. Through Amitié Chrétienne, Glasberg created a network of absorption centers (DCA), which stretched throughout southern France. The DCA facilitated his rescue activities during World War II, which included the rescue of refugees from internment camps - most of whom were Jews.

In the summer of 1942, as the arrests of Jews in southern France began, Glasberg began to forge the identities of his rescuees and to move many of them from place to place in order to cover their tracks. In this way, he saved hundreds of Jews. In December of that year, the French police and the Gestapo decided to arrest him, so he was forced to go into hiding. He changed his name to Father Elie Corvin, and a fictitious position was created for him as priest of a church in the district of Tarn Et Garonne. Throughout this period, the DCA continued its activities, absorbing new refugees under false identities. Alexandre Glasberg’s brother, Vila, was appointed head of the organization at this time.

On August 16 1943, apparently following a tip by an informant, the German police performed pinpoint searches for Alexandre Glasberg. They found his brother Vila, despite his having changed his name to Victor Vermont, and a Nazi officer realized that Vermont is French for Glasberg (both mean “glass mountain”). The Nazis suspected that Vila was Alexandre; Vila did not deny this, so as to keep them from pursuing his brother. Vila’s trail then disappeared. He was arrested, deported, and murdered, but no one knows exactly when and where. Alexandre Glasberg managed to evade the Gestapo until the end of the war.

In addition to his lifesaving activity during the Holocaust, Father Alexandre Glasberg made an extraordinary contribution to the establishment of the State of Israel by helping facilitate complex operations that enabled Holocaust survivors to emigrate to Mandatory Palestine (and later, the State of Israel). Among these were the well-known ship Exodus, and mass emigration of Jews from Iraq, Morocco, and Egypt. Father Glasberg died in France in 1981.

A person recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations is awarded a specially minted medal bearing his name, a certificate of honor, and the privilege of his/her name being added to those on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. The awards are distributed to the rescuers or their next of kin in ceremonies in Israel, or in their countries of residence through Israel's diplomatic representatives.