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The Holocaust

Rescue

Rescue by Jews

Gisi Fleischmann, one of the heads of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and one of the leaders of the Working Group in Slovakia.
 Gisi Fleischmann, one of the heads of the Women’s International Zionist Organization and one of the leaders of the Working Group in Slovakia
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At first glance, rescues of Jews carried out by Jews should not receive a special emphasis, because they appear to be only natural, routine acts. However, the cases of rescue by Jews – of which there were many instances – were not self-evident. The Holocaust challenged established social norms, values and relationships. It led to a weakening of the bonds of solidarity within Jewish society. In a reality in which each individual Jew was subject to persecution and the threat of destruction, the instinctual drive for physical survival became dominant. However, even in such conditions, many Jews risked their lives to save other Jews – both family members and complete strangers. More than once they forfeited a chance to escape in order to help other Jews.

Jewish organizations attempted to rescue Jews by getting them out of the camps, by ransoming them for money, by placing them in children’s institutions or private homes, and by organizing their emigration from countries under the rule of the Nazis and their collaborators. Jews living under false identities managed to rescue other Jews by helping them go into hiding, by passing information to them, by smuggling them into areas outside the Nazi sphere of influence, and by obtaining falsified documents for them which stated that they were Christian workers or laborers essential for the German war economy.

Jews attempted to stall and prevent the deportation of Jews to the death camps by negotiating with senior Nazi officials or with regimes supportive of the Nazis. Jews in the ghettos and concentration camps established welfare societies that provided assistance to Jewish orphans and other needy individuals. Thus many Jews were saved from death.