Holocaust Rescuers “He Who Saves One Life Saves the World Entire” Rosemary Conroy 2009
Do not romanticize history to engage students’ interest. Less than one-half of one percent of the total population (non-Jews) under Nazi occupation helped rescue Jews.
A small number of individuals had the courage to help by providing: • Hiding places Escape routes • False papers Food • Clothing Money • Weapons Support
Fear/threat of punishment Collective responsibility Anti-Semitism of local population Public executions/hangings Deportation to concentration camps On the spot shootings Degree of Nazi control over government bureaucracy. Occupied population was struggling with fear, hunger, loss of family members, etc. Inability of victims to blend into community-degree of assimilation affected chance of rescue Factors which impeded rescue
Characteristics of Rescuers Nechama Tec, Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, has identified six characteristics and conditions that Holocaust rescuers share.
Rescuers did not blend into their communities. • Rescuers seemed to be less controlled by their environments. • These individuals seemed more inclined to act on their own principles.
Rescuers are independent people and they know it. • They do what they feel they must do. • They have a clear sense of what is right and the right thing to do is to help others. • They viewed Jews and other victims not as the enemy, but simply as human beings.
Rescuers have a long history of doing good deeds. • Most had a value system that had been instilled and internalized in childhood that emphasized tolerance and altruism to others. • Many rescuers had suffered illness, loss, or separation as children combined with a nurturing caretaker and this later encouraged identification with, and increased sensitivity to, the suffering of others.
Rescuers do good deeds automatically. • Because they have done the right thing for a long time, it doesn’t seem extraordinary to them. • Doing good is part of their life’s fabric.
Rescuers choose to help without rational consideration. • They did not hesitate to help. • An early education in values, especially tolerance, exposure to altruistic role-models, and exposure to helping others made virtue a habit.
Chiune Sugihara • Saved an estimated 3,400 Polish Jews trapped in Lithuania in the summer of 1940 by issuing Japanese visas for travel across Russia to Japan. He issued visas despite the risk to his career and to his family. http://www1.yadvashem.org/education/lessonplan/english/Sugihara/Sugihara.htm
Oskar Schindler • A German war profiteer, Schindler succeeded in saving 1,100 Jews who worked in his factory in Poland. He used bribery and charm to keep his workers safe.
Feng Shan Ho • “I thought it natural to feel compassion and to want to help. From the standpoint of humanity, that is the way it should be.”
China’s Oscar Schindler • Chinese diplomat • Saved thousands of Jews early in WWII • Acted against orders of his superior • Issued visas to Jews to Shanghai • They did not need visas for Shanghai but it got them out • Exact number he saved unknown, but he issued over 2000 visas in 6 months
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon • The inhabitants of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a Protestant village in southern France saved the lives of thousands of Jews- a large percentage of whom were children- and other refugees escaping Nazi persecution. An estimated 5,000 people were saved.
Irena Sendler • As a Polish Catholic social worker, working for Zegota, Sendler organized the rescue effort of 2,500 Jewish babies and children from the Nazi-controlled Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 and 1943.
Raoul Wallenberg • Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, is credited with saving 100,000 Jewish men, women,and children from death at the hands of Adolph Eichmann in Budapest by issuing protective passports.
Kindertransport • An extraordinary rescue operation in which 10,000 Jewish children were sent from German held lands to foster families in Great Britain.
Danish Rescue • A collaborative effort by Danish citizens to ferry 7,220 Danish Jews and 680 non-Jewish family members safely to Sweden.
Aristedes de Sousa Mendes • De Sousa Mendes was the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, France in 1940. He violated his government’s orders and issued visas to Jewish refugees. He is believed to have saved some 30,000 people, 10,000 of whom were Jews.
Varian Fry • Fry was an American working for the Emergency Rescue Committee. He made it possible for approximately 1,000 Jews to escape from France.
Bielski Brigade • After the murder of their family by the Nazis in Belarus, the Bielski brothers escaped to the nearby forest. This Jewish partisan unit saved almost 1,200 Jews while fighting the Germans.
Luba Tryszynska • A Polish Jew, Luba rescued and cared for more than 40 Dutch children, none older than 14, in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from the summer of 1944 until liberation by the British on April 15,1945.
Righteous Among the Nations • This term is used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from death by the Nazis. It is commonly translated into Righteous Gentile.
Criteria • Only a Jewish individual can nominate someone. • Helping a family member or a Jewish convert does not qualify. • The assistance has to be repeated and /or substantial. • Assistance has to be given without expectation of financial gain
Those Honored • As of January 1, 2008, 22,211 men and women from 44 countries have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. • Poland has 6,066 awards while many countries like Chile, Japan, Ireland, and Portugal have only one.
Why Teach Rescue? • What do we want our students to take away from a study of the Holocaust? • How can a study of the Holocaust move our students forward so that they are not traumatized or fixated on its atrocities? • What lessons can our students learn from the past to make the world a better place? • How do we move our students to action and responsibility?
Teaching to Empower • Ingenuity • Cooperation • Self-Sacrifice • Moral Leadership • Courage • Integrity • Compassion • Social Responsibility
“There are many persons ready to do what is right because in their hearts they know it is right. But they hesitate, waiting for the other fellow to make the first move- and he in turn, waits for you.” Marian Anderson
Chinune Sugihara Oskar Schindler Feng Shan Ho Le Chambon –Sur- Lignon Irena Sendler Kinder transport Danish Rescue Aristedes de Sousa Mendes Varian Fry Bielski Brigade Raoul Wallenberg Luba Tryszynska Rescuers