Jewish refugee thankful for Swedish Christians who saved him during WWII

A new film uncovers the life of a Jewish refugee looked after by a Christian family in Sweden during the Second World War.

Herb Gildin and his sisters Cele and Margaret were forced to flee Germany in 1939, when Nazis were beginning to round up Jews and burn their homes, businesses and synagogues.

With the help of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the children were sent away to Falun, Sweden to live in the care of three different families – strangers, who embraced them as their own.

‘A good life’

The three children lived in Sweden for two years before being safely reunited with their parents in the US.

But Herb said that during his short time with the Christian family, he found another home.

“They became my family, this was my second mother, second father, second sister and brothers. I did not ever think that I was going to leave. This was a lifetime commitment.”

‘Wonderful people’

Now aged 89, Herb is thankful for the years of safety that he had with the family.

He told the Mail Online: “I think that my story, and our story, is such a wider story, because it is so different than most people my age that tell their children and grandchildren about their life… it’s all about concentration camps, gas chambers, death.

“Ours was a difficult time, but it was wonderful people doing wonderful things. Good things happened during this period of time, and that’s so rare – you don’t hear stories like that.”


In 2001, Herb was able to meet up with his adopted brothers and sisters for the first time in over 50 years.

His 29-year-old grandson recorded the reunion to produce a documentary about his grandfather’s life.

Herb’s wife Gloria said: “One of the important things, to me, was to realise that there are people in this world who will take people in and take care of them.”


Coverage of the Daily Mail’s story on the Facebook page of Gildin Media – who made the documentary – brought a poignant response.

Edith Brooks wrote that thanks to a “great Christian family who saved our family… I am here today”.