Wednesday 13 November 2019

'She ran an unimaginable danger' - woman (92) reunited with Jewish family she helped save from Nazis during WWII

Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) reacts as she is reunited with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (R) and his sister Sarah Yanai
(Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) reacts as she is reunited with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (R) and his sister Sarah Yanai (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) poses for a group photo with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (C-L) and his sister Sarah Yanai (C-R), whom she helped escape in 1943, along with their descendants at the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) reacts as she is reunited with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (R) and his sister Sarah Yanai (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Sarah Yanai and Melpomeni Dina merged today in a hug loaded with history and emotion. One, Holocaust survivor; the other, their savior, met again today in Jerusalem to meet the almost 40 descendants of that family that Dina hid from the Nazis.

"I heard stories about her for many years, what her family did for my dad (Yossi) and her family. It was like a legend, and suddenly she's flesh and blood, a real person and I'm very excited to see her here," declared Efe Rafeket Dor, Yanai's niece upon meeting Dina.

Sarah, her mother Mari and her four brothers, including Yossi, were hidden by Melpomeni and her sisters at their home in the Greek city of Veria, where they remained for several months at the end of World War II until they managed to escape.

Today, at the International Center for Holocaust Memory in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, met again and Sarah, along with her brother Yossi,introduced Melpomeni , 92, to her nearly 40 children and grandchildren, who personally greeted one of the main people responsible for his family not being captured by the Nazis.

Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) poses for a group photo with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (C-L) and his sister Sarah Yanai (C-R), whom she helped escape in 1943, along with their descendants at the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) poses for a group photo with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (C-L) and his sister Sarah Yanai (C-R), whom she helped escape in 1943, along with their descendants at the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

"It is a huge emotion to receive her here in Israel and that she can meet our families," she told Efe Sarah, remarkably excited, and sitting next to her savior, with whom she cried for several minutes.

"She saved my whole family and now she can see the big family we built, because she saved us. It's so amazing what she did, she ran an unimaginable danger by hiding us," added Yanai, 86, about Melpomeni.

Melpomeni, who travelled especially from Greece to meet the families of Sarah and Yossi, could not hold back the tears when the youngest grandchildren approached to hug her and kissed her cheek.

"I am very happy to see all of you and in good health," she said and remarked that "you have to teach the people to do good, because when you do something good, you will receive it again at some point in your life."

The link between Melpomeni and Yossi and Sarah emerged during the war thanks to the relationship between the latter's mother, Mari, and a young woman named Efthimia, whom she had taught sewing for free.

After spending some time locked in the attic of another family, Efthimia offered Mari and her five children to hide in their home, where they lived for several months with their younger sisters, Bithleem and Melpomeni , who today reminds Sarah how they played together and they divided the little bread they had to eat.

Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) reacts as she is reunited with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (R) and his sister Sarah Yanai
(Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)
Greek World War II rescuer Melpomeni Dina (C) reacts as she is reunited with holocaust survivors Yossi Mor (R) and his sister Sarah Yanai (Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

Both Melpomeni and her sisters were recognized as Righteous among the Nations, a recognition granted by Israel and Yad Vashem to those non-Jews who saved Jewish people during the Holocaust. Their names are engraved on the Wall of Honor in the Garden of the Righteous among the Nations in Yad Vashem.

Reuters

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