Mary Elmes

During the Second World War Mary Elmes saved at least 200 Jewish children from the Nazis. Born in Cork, her home city has recently honoured her with a Mary Elmes Bridge

Mary was born in 1908 and studied in Dublin, London and in Switzerland. In 1937, she went to Spain to help set up hospitals for refugee children. At the time, there was a civil war in the country and many people were homeless. Mary later moved to southern France to help refugees from Spain who had escaped there.

During the Second World War, the French government supported the Nazis and their policy of killing Jewish people. When the round up of Jewish children began, Mary rescued many. She helped them by either finding them hiding places or organising for them to escape from France.

In 1943 Mary was arrested and spent six months in a Nazi jail because of helping Jewish children. After the war, she married a French man and they had two children. She did not often talk about her bravery in the war and died in 2002. 

In 2013, Mary was recognised with Israel’s highest award given to non-Jews who helped Jewish people during the war. When the Elmes bridge opened in Cork in 2019, two of the guests were Charlotte Berger Greneche and Georges Koltein. As children, Mary had saved both of them.