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Antonina Gordey was a Russian nanny who saved a little Jewish girl by pretending she was her own illegitimate child.

Antonina was working for the the Ledvich family in Minsk, Belarus when the Germans occupied the city in 1941. Antonina and little Raya Ledvich were separated from Raya’s parents in the chaos.

Determined to keep Raya’s Jewish identity a secret, Antonina pretended the girl was her own biological child, born out of wedlock. In 1943, Antonina got married, and did not even tell her husband the truth about Raya.

Antonina managed to keep Raya safe until the end of the war. After liberation, the Ledvich parents, who had miraculously survived, returned to Minsk and found their little girl, still with Antonina. The two families remained close until Antonina’s death in 1978.

For sacrificing her own reputation to save the life of a Jewish child, we honor Antonina Gordey as this week’s Thursday Hero.

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