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January 6, 2014 9:10 pm

British Jew Honored for Rescuing Anne Frank’s Classmate From Bergen Belsen

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Major Leonard Berney, during World War II, when he liberated the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Photo: Screenshot.

Major Leonard Berney, during World War II, when he liberated the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Photo: Screenshot.

Major Leonard Berney, 93, originally from London, was one of the first army officers of the British 11th Armored division to enter the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, where he rescued Nanette Blitz Konig, now 84, from Holland, who was a classmate of Anne Frank and is mentioned in her diary.

In the camp, the then 16-year-old Blitz Konig acted as the major’s translator before he sent a letter to her relatives in London to say she was alive and that he was helping her fly to safety. He even visited her once after the war, in 1949.

According to the Daily Mail, her daughter, Elizabeth Kahn, 59, flew to Israel to personally thank Berney and present him with a gold plate, which read: “To Leonard Berney ‘Whoever saves a life, it as is if he saved a whole world.’ With appreciation, the Family of Nanette Blitz Konig.”

Berney moved to Plymouth, Devon, UK, as part of a development grant after the war, then worked in the clothing industry until his retirement in 1977. Today, he lives on a ship, circumventing the globe. He has lectured frequently about his experience liberating the camp.

Blitz Konig has lived in Sao Paolo, Brazil, since 1953 and has three children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

She told the Daily Mail: “He was a big factor in the reason I did survive. The amazing thing is amidst this absolute horrendous overwhelming situation which no normal person can ever understand, he saw the time to help me.”

While Blitz Konig was liberated from the camp on April 15, 1945, Anne Frank died there, just six weeks before. Her book, ‘The Diary of a Young Girl,’ was published by her father in 1947 and has since become one of the most read stories in the world.

Blitz Konig said of her friend: “In 1941 in Holland they organized 25 schools for Jewish students. I was in the same school as Anne Frank which was a coincidence.”

“I am the only one in that class who met her again in Bergen Belsen,” she said. “I was in camp seven and she was in camp eight, I saw her through the barbed wire. I met her several times and it was from Anne that I learnt what was happening in Auschwitz. She told me about her diary and that she wanted to use it for a book after the war, she never wanted to publish a diary. I don’t know how we recognized each other, as we were both skeletons.”

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