Rescuers: portraits of moral courage in the Holocaust

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Holmes & Meier, 1992 - History - 255 pages
3 Reviews
Who are the rescuers, the men and women whose gripping personal narratives make up the core of this remarkable book? Why did they risk everything - their livelihoods, their homes, their lives, and even those of their families - to save Jews marked for death during the Holocaust? Are they ordinary people, as they themselves claim, or truly heroic? Malka Drucker and Gay Block spent three years visiting 105 rescuers from ten countries. Their psychologically revealing interviews and photographs speak directly to us in powerful words and images. Block's full-page color portraits accompany each narrative, inviting us to look at these men and women as they are today, people whose faces resemble our own. Would we act as they did? In their own words, forty-nine of the rescuers present a vivid picture of their lives before, during, and after the war as they grapple with the question of why they acted with humanity in a time of barbarism - and whether they would do it again. Their stories - infused with the deep memory that engages a terrible past - are unforgettable. Louisa Steenstra relives the Nazis' murder of her husband and of the Jews they were hiding in their attic in the Netherlands; Antonin Kalina of Czechoslovakia relates how he deceived the SS to save 1,300 children in Buchenwald. Others recall how they smuggled Jews out of the ghettos; worked in resistance movements; forged passports and baptismal certificates; hid Jews in cellars, barns, and behind false walls; shared their meager food rations; secretly disposed of waste; and raised Jewish children as their own. A landmark volume that includes maps, historic photographs from family collections, and a comprehensive introduction byMalka Drucker, Rescuers makes a vital contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust, of the complex factors that made some people refuse the role of passive bystander, and of the profound psychological and ethical issues that still perplex us. When asked about the prospects for acts of moral courage today, rescuer Liliane Gaffney told the authors: "It's very difficult for a generation raised looking out for Number One to understand it. This is something totally unknown here. But there, if you didn't live for others as well as yourself it wasn't worth living". For Jan Karski, however, the legacy of the rescuers is one of affirmation: "Do not lose hope in humanity". In the end, what is perhaps most striking about the rescuers is their modesty and simple humanness; yet, as Cynthia Ozick concludes in the Prologue, "It is from these undeniably heroic and principled few that we can learn the full resonance of civilization".

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Review: Rescuers: Portraits in Moral Courage in the Holocaust

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

Worth reading simply for the reflections that the Rescuers have about countries after WW II. Some of the stories are heart breaking, all up lifting. I don't think I could be as brave as these people. The narratives are at times honest (in particular the Countess), sometimes quiet. Read full review

Review: Rescuers: Portraits in Moral Courage in the Holocaust

User Review  - Valerie - Goodreads

The overwhelming theme in this book is not, "I set out to do the right thing." but rather, "A time of choice came, and I chose to do the thing that I knew was right." I believe that this is the core ... Read full review


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