Debórah Dwork

in The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211869
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Some witnesses to the plight of Jews under the swastika decided to intervene by becoming rescuers. This article shows that their actions evolved as the Nazi persecution radicalized: whereas ‘rescue’ in the prewar years meant helping ‘refugees’, it meant hiding Jews and assisting their flight once Nazism expanded. Common to both periods, however, was the fact that rescuers — male and female, urban and rural, gentile and Jewish, of all ages, social classes, and degrees of religious observance — stepped forward individually and collectively, despite all odds, to save lives. The rescuers did not derail the Holocaust, but without them the number of Jewish deaths would have been larger and the genocide's aftereffects more devastating.

Keywords: Jews; Nazi persecution; witnesses; rescuers; genocide

Article.  6496 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies

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