26 February 2012
On Tuesday, February 28, 2012, Yad Vashem will hold a ceremony honoring Sister Marie Emilienne and the late Father Joseph Caupert as Righteous Among the Nations from France. Sister Marie Emilienne and Father André Almeras, nephew of Father Caupert, will accept the medals and certificates of honor. The event will take place in the presence of H.E. Christoph Bigot, Ambassador of France in Israel, survivor Gabi Hochman, family and friends. A memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance will be held at 11:00 a.m. followed by the awarding of the medal and certificate in the Synagogue at Yad Vashem. The events will take place in Hebrew and French. The event is open to the press, in coordination with the Media Relations dept. 02 644 3410.
The Rescue Story
David and Hella-Zyssa Hochman emigrated from Poland to France in 1923 and settled in the city of Metz where their two children Annie and René were born. In 1940, when the Germans invaded France, the Hochmans moved to Nice where their third child Gabrielle was born. In September 1943, when the German forces occupied the French territories under Italian control, the Hochmans placed their three children in the hands of the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE, Children's Aid Society) that rescued Jewish children. David and Hella-Zyssa went into hiding themselves, but Hella, who left occasionally to visit her children, was caught by the Gestapo and deported to Auschwitz where she was murdered on November 2, 1942. After Hella's capture, David decided that the children should be hidden elsewhere and his Catholic brother-in-law Charles Mercier came to his aid. Charles placed the two girls, Annie and Gabi in an orphanage at the La Providence convent in Mende, which was simultaneously providing refuge for members of the Resistance. Father Joseph Caupert who was in charge of the orphanage, and Mother Superior Marie Rose Brugeron, kept the girls' Jewish identity secret. Sister Marie-Emilienne (formerly Marie-Rose Hermantier) who was also privy to the secret, took it upon herself to be responsible for Annie whenever danger was imminent, while the nun who cared for Gabi was unaware that Gabi was Jewish. Annie and Gabi remained in the orphanage for a year and two months.
After the war, the girls and their father discussed neither their life in the convent nor the family's life during the war. Only in the 1990's did Gabi begin to delve into how she had been rescued. With the help of Aloumim, the Association of Jewish Children Hidden during the Holocaust, Gabi turned to the OSE for assistance. Using their lists of children that were secretly hidden, Gabi discovered that she and her sister had been placed at the orphanage at La Providence. She also found their names listed in the convent's records of children who were in the orphanage. The fate of their brother René remains unknown.
In 1994, Gabi travelled to France and met Sister Marie-Emilienne. Three years later, in a ceremony that took place in the city of Mende, a memorial plaque was unveiled telling of the noble deeds that took place there during the Holocaust.
On June 6, 2011, the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem decided to award Father Joseph Caupert, Sister Marie-Emilienne and Mother Marie-Rose Brugeron the title of Righteous Among the Nations. The ceremony recognizing Mother Marie-Rose Brugeron will take place in France.