DECEMBER 24: Teen saves three from Gestapo


“Can you imagine such a young person doing what she did?”
— Henri Aboudaram, father of a girl saved by Kate Lipner on December 24, 1942.

THREE JEWISH CHILDREN, aged nine, seven, and five, survived certain capture from the Gestapo on Christmas Eve, 1942, due to the quick thinking of Kate Lipner (nee Rossi), their seventeen-year-old gentile guardian.

Warned that troopers were canvassing her neighborhood in Nice, France, Lipner hustled the three children into a Catholic Church service. The crowded house of Christian worship proved an ideal spot for Lipner and her charges to blend in and remain undetected as the troops conducted their searches elsewhere.

Young Kate Lipner (nee Rossi)

Young Kate Lipner (nee Rossi)

“Can you imagine such a young person doing what she did?” ninety-three-year-old Henri Aboudaram, father of the youngest of the children, said in a 2000 Chicago Tribune story.

Lipner continually risked her life, and even killed, to protect the three children. The German secret police, known as the Gestapo, once arrested her and held her for two days on charges of harboring Jews. Lipner, who settled in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, after the war, said German soldiers shot a baby, which they said was Jewish, in front of her.

One day in 1944, Lipner confronted a German SS man who had entered a building where she was keeping the children. Knowing the man would kill her and the kids if discovered, she walked up close to the German and shot him. Then she passed out.

In 1995, the Holocaust Martyr’s and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem awarded the seventy-year-old Lipner the “Righteous Among the Nations” medal. This is a title awarded by Yad Vashem on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

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