MORE

NEW YORK — After more than 60 years, a Holocaust survivor was reunited the day after Thanksgiving with a woman whose family kept her hidden from the Nazis during World War II, NewsChannel 4’s Pei-Sze Cheng reported.

It was a tearful reunion between unlikely friends: Lea Ingel, an escapee from a Jewish ghetto in Nazi-controlled Lithuania, and Geidrute Ramanauskiene, the daughter of a Catholic family. The two became close friends when Geidrute’s family protected Lea from the Nazis, Cheng said.

“They took me in, in their life,” said Lea. “I was escaping from the ghetto. I had no food, and they were taking away people to kill.”

Lea, now 84 years old, was 20 when she and her husband, Samuel, were taken in by Geidrute’s family, who hid the couple inside the family’s modest farmhouse.

For about a year all of them lived in constant fear, keeping the biggest secret of their lives, Cheng said.

“I was happy to help her and so were my parents, but we knew we were taking a big risk,” Geidrute told Cheng.

“If the Germans had found them, the Jews and the entire family would have been murdered,” according to Stanlee Stahl, spokesman for the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which organized the reunion.

The foundation financially helps about 1,400 non-Jews who risked their lives helping Jews survive under Nazi rule.

The group says 91 percent of Lithuanian Jews died during the holocaust, and most of Lea’s family died in the ghetto.

Today, the two friends are a bit older, but the special bond they share remains the same.

“I feel very good, and I love her very much. She is a very good person to everybody,” Lea told Cheng.