(JTA) – Frida Wattenberg was too young to get a license when the Nazis invaded her native France in 1940.
But three years later, at the age of 19, he had risked his life by helping to expel Jewish children from occupied France to neutral Switzerland.
Wattenberg died in Paris on April 3 because of the corona virus. He is 96 years old.
“She is a brave woman and a tireless warrior,” Memorial for the Shoah wrote in the obituary.
Born in Paris in 1924 to Jewish parents who immigrated from the city of Lodz, central Poland, Wattenberg was an activist of the HaShomer Hatzair Jewish youth movement as a teenager. A few months after the German invasion, Wattenberg, then 16 years old, was recruited into resistance.
In 1942 he obtained his mother’s release from Vel d’Hiv, a place of exile that was notoriously bad for Parisian Jews, by obtaining documents showing that his mother was an employee of a factory that was considered vital for the German war effort. A year later, he was in Grenoble, southeastern France, helping to smuggle Jewish children, many of them orphans, across the border to safety.
“It’s terrible what is happening all over Europe,” Wattenberg said in details, 97 minutes testimony that he gave a Warning to Shoah in 2014, when he was 90. “We cannot save adults always. But we try to do what we can for children. “
After the war, Wattenberg continued to work with refugee children, becoming case workers for OPEJ, a Jewish community group that takes care of war orphans. As a zealous Zionist, he helped organize clandestine immigration by Jews from pre-state Israel.
Wattenberg has two children, Amnon and Anita, with her husband, Marcel Rudman.
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