Altruistic Personality: Rescuers Of Jews In Nazi Europe (Google eBook)

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 1, 1992 - Religion - 448 pages
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Why, during the Holocaust, did some ordinary people risk their lives and the lives of their families to help others--even total strangers--while others stood passively by? Samuel Oliner, a Holocaust survivor who has interviewed more than 700 European rescuers and nonrescuers, provides some surprising answers in this compelling work.

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Why Risk Ones Life?
by Lawrence Baron
Trust and Deception
or Character?
The Enduring Significance of Altruistic Acts
Moral Heroisrn and Extensivity
Selected Bibliography

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Page x - ... to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him.
Page xiii - When God came to create the world and reveal what was hidden in the depths and disclose light out of darkness, they were all wrapped in one another, and therefore light emerged from darkness and from the impenetrable came forth the profound. So, too, from good issues evil, and from mercy issues judgment, and all are intertwined, the good impulse and the evil impulse, right and left, Israel and other peoples, white and black — all depend on one another.
Page ix - But in human nature generous impulses are occasional and reversible; they are absent in childhood, in dreams, in extremities; they are often weak or soured in old age. They form amiable interludes like tearful sentiments in a ruffian; or they are pleasant self-deceptive hypocrisies, acted out, like civility to strangers, because such is in society the path of least resistance. Strain the situation, however, dig a little beneath the surface, and you will find a ferocious, persistent, profound selfishness.
Page xx - It is of the highest importance not only to record and recount, both for ourselves and for the future, the evidences of human degradation, but side by side with them to set forth the evidences of human exaltation and nobility.
Page 4 - During the course of interviewing our 126 nonrescuers, we became aware of an important difference among the members of this group. In response to the question of whether they had done anything out of the ordinary during the war to help other people or to resist the Nazis, 53 responded yes; it turned out that they were either members of resistance groups or had helped Jews or sometimes both. Although we had no reason to doubt their claims, we did not have corroborating external evidence. Rather than...
Page xii - ... Laughing Boy, he wound up in the pen. Twenty years. This for murder. Indians Just ought to leave whiskey to the white folks. I can't remember the names of the others who came there, The casual weekend-ers. But remember What I remember, but do not Know what it all means, unless the meaning inheres in The compulsion to try to convert what now is was Back into what was is.
Page 5 - ... Thus, what appears like altruism turns out at best to be intelligent consideration of the self. On the other hand, Emile Durkheim believed that altruism exists in every society.7 Altruism exists, said Durkheim, whenever individuals abnegate their interests in favor of obedience for the sake of society. No society could exist unless its members acknowledge and make sacrifices on behalf of each other. Thus, said Durkheim, altruism is not merely "a sort of agreeable ornament to social life
Page 5 - Freud, and mainstream psychologists6 — suggest that people rarely act out of any motive higher than enlightened self-interest. Whereas Machiavellianism implies manipulating or even harming others for the sake of self, enlightened self-interest counsels helping others in light of reciprocal claims. Thus, what appears like...
Page 2 - Clearly, then, even many basically good and decent folk, personally sympathetic, nonetheless regarded the fate of others as separate and distinct from their own — not quite pertinent enough, not quite important enough to compel intervention. What we need to understand is why rescuers could not share this perception of the fate of Europe's Jews. Much of human behavior can be explained as the result of broad social...
Page xi - The latter presents us with a hard mirror. Would I rescue a pregnant woman, a hungry and homeless child, an aged, frightened couple — provide them with food and shelter, dispose of their refuse, and care for them in their sickness — knowing that doing so might bring disaster upon my family and myself from Nazi pursuers and their informers? The rescuers' goodness shakes the foundations of my claims to virtue.

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About the author (1992)

Pearl M. Oliner and Samuel P. Oliner are Professor of Education and Professor of Sociology, respectively, at Humboldt State University and co-authors of The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe.

Lawrence Baron is the Director of the Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies and Nasir Professor of Modern Jewish History at San Diego State University.

Dennis L. Krebs is Chair and Professor of Psychology at S

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