105-Year-Old WWII Hero Honored at KKL Italy Event in Rome .
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On November 29th 2015, KKL Italy held a special event attended by 250 members of the Rome Jewish community, including community leader Emanuel Segre Amar. The guest of honor was Georges Loinger, a French Jew who has attained the remarkable age of 105 and who kept his listeners riveted with the tale of his extraordinary life.
Georges Loinger's life history is bound up with the story of the establishment
of the State of Israel.
Mr. Loinger was born in Strasbourg in 1910. During the Second World War he was captured by the Nazis, but managed to make his escape and return to France, where he joined the French Resistance movement. Working together with his cousin, the renowned pantomime artist Marcel Marceau, he saved around one thousand Jewish children from the Nazis.
After the war he was recruited by the Mossad for Aliya Bet operations (clandestine immigration into Mandatory Palestine in defiance of the British White Paper restricting Jewish immigration) and was involved in the operation of the Exodus. Later Ben Gurion appointed him to be the first director of Zim Shipping Lines in France, a position he retained until his retirement.
President of KKL-JNF Italy Rafi Sasson opened the event by welcoming Georges Loinger and the other guests, and drew their attention to the fact that this particular date (November 29th) had been chosen especially to mark the 68th anniversary of the UN resolution for the founding of a Jewish state.
Those present listened attentively to the fascinating and moving story that Georges Loinger had to tell. He also spoke of the current situation in Europe – and in France especially – and remarked optimistically that after everything he had seen throughout his long life, he was not unduly concerned by the latest wave of terrorism, as he was sure that this, too, would pass. When asked the secret of his perpetual youthfulness, he explained that he spends forty-five minutes every day performing special exercises that engage all his muscles.
The event was attended by Gal Shaham, CEO of Zim Italy, who congratulated Georges and presented him with a gift on behalf of the company’s board of directors.
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The day after this memorable event the staff of KKL Italy accompanied Georges Loinger on a visit to the Jewish school in Rome, together with his youngest son, Daniel Loinger, who is himself eighty-five years old. Georges spoke to fifty senior students at the school who were thrilled with this remarkable opportunity to hear him recount his experiences first hand. The youngsters posed a great many questions, to which Georges responded very patiently.
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