Elli’s saviours now Righteous Among the Nations

March 13, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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Last March Elli Mantegari travelled from her home in Sao Paulo to meet the children of the couple who hid her as a baby from the Nazis after learning the story the story at the age of 70. Yad Vashem has now declared the deceased Dutch couple the title of “Righteous Among the Nations”.

Marcel Hakkens, Lea Radzinger , Monique Howell, Gloria Hakkens, Elli Mantegari, Caleb Howell, Richard Hakkens

A chance reading of a Dutch Holocaust publication by Mantegari’s sister Lee Radzinger in her home in Los Angeles reunited the two families in Wellington, New Zealand, last year.

Read the amazing story of Elli Mantegari’s reunion with the Haakens family here.

A date as yet to be fixed for the presentation of the award which will be organised by the Israeli embassy in Wellington.

Jo Haakens and her husband Fritz hid baby Elli Szanowski by making her part of their own family. They were unable to trace her when the war was over. A plea from Marcel Haakens 9-yr-old grandson Caleb last year resulted in a successful search and Elli was reunited with her foster brothers after 65 years…

“I never doubted this positive outcome, especially after to talking to the people at Yad Vashem. It just shows that no act of kindness is ever forgotten or erased by time. Wonderful news indeed,” said Vera Egermayer the liaison officer of the Wellington Holocaust Centre.

Elli told J-Wire from her home in Sao Paulo: “I am so pleased to know that this couple who took care of me and became more familiar after last year, spending time in New Zealand with their sons, my “brothers”, learning about them,listening about situations they went through during the war, their generosity, risking their own life are now recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

Unknown to me the story of my survival comes to surface after 69 years thanks to Gloria’s insistent search. I am very grateful to her too. Certainly the last push was given by Caleb….!”



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