Man who survived the Holocaust is finally reunited with the family that saved his life

The Holocaust is one of the darkest periods in world history, with millions of lives lost, and painful memories haunting generations of the families that suffered from it.

In the aftermath of World War II, victims continue to attempt to reconcile themselves with their past.

This is what 55-year-old Lionel Rossler of Rebeq, Belgium, did for his father David, now 85, who was saved, along with his mother, Haja Sura Zoltak, from Nazi persecution in the war.

In 1938, David Rossler was born with the surname Langa, but later took on the last name of his stepfather, a survivor of Auschwitz. David and his family lived in Brussels, Belgium, when the persecution of the Jewish community began.

85-year old David Rossler was reunited with the family who saved him from the Nazis in World War II.
MyHeritage | YouTube

They would move around for the next few years to escape the Nazis. Unfortunately, at one point his father and uncle were arrested by the Germans and were never seen again.

Young David and his mother found temporary refuge in a Catholic convent. On the day it was raided, they were lucky enough to escape and were saved by Georges Bourlet and his four young adult children, Paul, Jacques, Anne-Marie, and Christiane, in Auderghem, Brussels in 1944.

David was just five years old at the time. Lionel shared, “Because of his heroic action, Georges was able to save the lives of my father and grandmother. Nine people were saved thanks to what he did; my brother, myself and our children would not be here today if not for his courage and kindness.”

David's son Lionel spearheaded the search for the family that saved his father and grandmother.
MyHeritage | YouTube

After the war, David’s mother remarried, and they moved to Austria and lost contact with the Bourlets.

Lionel, however, began to search for the family that saved his father and grandmother, to thank them and preserve his father’s experience for future generations.

For years, the Lionel’s search was unsuccessful, until he turned to social media for help in January 2022. He posted a message in French on Facebook, which stated, “I am looking for the descendants of the Bourlet family… This family was composed of the father, two daughters and two sons.”

A vintage photo of the house where Lionel hid.
MyHeritage | YouTube

Marie Cappart, a genealogist and manager for in Belgium, noticed the message and reached out to Lionel. She said, “Ignoring the post was not an option for me. I felt compelled to help. Plus, I love a good research challenge!”

Using MyHeritage’s online archive of 16 billion records, Marie tracked down one of Bourlet’s grandsons and other descendants.

Lionel recalled, “After browsing records and cross-referencing data, Marie found an Anne-Marie Bourlet, born in Auderghem in 1929. She discovered that this Anne-Marie married someone with the surname Dedoncker and had five children, all of them possibly still alive.”

The home of Georges Bourlet, the refuge of David and his mother.
MyHeritage | YouTube

“After a bit more research, Marie found Xavier, one of Georges Bourlet’s grandsons, and managed to contact him. She learned that Xavier had heard a little about this story, but not much,” Lionl added.

Marie was then able to contact other descendants of Georges Bourlet, including the ones who still owned the family home where David and his mother were saved in Auderghem.

Lionel and Marie suggested that they should all meet, and David should go back and see the home where he was kept safe.

Two months after the Facebook post, David and his son Lionel had an emotional reunion with the family of Georges Bourlet at the home where the rescue happened almost 80 years ago.

David wept as he recalled his life in the Bourlet home as a child.
MyHeritage | YouTube

According to Lionel, “It was an incredibly emotional day for us. I was able to see, with my own eyes, the place where my father was kept safe from the Germans all those years ago.”

He added, “It’s a culmination and a relief. This fills me with a feeling of unbridled joy and a very satisfying sense of accomplishment.”

MyHeritage created a YouTube video in French with English subtitles to share the story of the search and the eventual reunion.

David was profoundly grateful for the opportunity to stand in the home where he and his mother were saved, and personally thank the Bourlet family after so many years.

Georges Bourlet and his chidren saved David and his mother in World War II.
MyHeritage | YouTube

He wept and said, “The fact that I’m alive, the fact that I have a family that I am very, very proud of, very happy with, I would tell him that. It is thanks to him.” David added, “If I had Mr. Bourlet in front of me, I would want to kiss him.”

It was actually the first time the Bourlet descendants learned about the full story. They were astonished and meeting the Rosslers helped them to better appreciate their grandfather’s life and heroism.

Marie was also grateful to play a role in the unique reunion. She considered her efforts as a tribute to her own grandfather and husband’s grandfather, who were also victims in the war.

She shared, “It’s humbling and nothing compared to the wonderful sacrifice Georges Bourlet made, risking his life to save a whole family. It’s a great honor to have added a little stone to this important memorial road. I’m a big believer in family history being brought to life through small actions we can do today to enrich our connection to our past.”

The Rosslers hope to make a case to Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, to have Georges Bourlet recognized and granted the title of “Righteous Among the Nations.”

The family
MyHeritage | YouTube

Lionel said, “In Jewish tradition, there is a saying that ‘He who saves one life saves all of humanity.’ Today we could say that there are nine lives here today, thanks to his actions.”

The whole experience and the story of the how the Georges Bourlet saved his family has changed Lionel Rossler’s life.

He said, “It has given me a renewed perspective on the importance of this essential work of digging into one’s family history and memory. That time passes quickly and we shouldn’t push off projects that are important to us.”

“The survivors of the Holocaust will soon disappear and it is essential to try to make sure that they can witness moments like this,” Lionel said further.

Watch the emotional video below:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.