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Saving Jewish Lives: What Would You Do?

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Elinor Florence, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Elinor Florence

    Elinor Florence Active Member

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    The Scheffers, shown here with their six children, managed to hide two Jews in their home for two years. The parents, posthumously, received the same award as Oskar Schindler of Schindler's List. Their action led to a lifelong friendship between the two families -- one in Holland, and one in Canada. Click on the Wartime Wednesdays link to read more.
     

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  2. toki2

    toki2 Active Member

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    I am always amazed at the fortitude of people like this. I remember having a discussion with my children about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, taking us as the Gentiles and the family of their best friends as the Jews. One minute, the children are playing and going to school together, the next, the Jews are outcasts. My children, straight away said that they would hide them. I, however had to weigh up my duty to keep my children safe against standing up for my principles, no matter what. With the practice and propaganda in Nazi schools encouraging pupils to report anything that may be against the State, I wondered if young children could keep a secret. I still cannot decide and I suppose you 'had to be there'. The discussion was prompted by meeting my sister in laws mother who was hidden with her mother by a chain of people throughout the war. From her whole extended family, only her and a cousin survived. Her mother died the day the war ended.
     
  3. green slime

    green slime Member

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    You bring up a solid point; it depends very much on your own personal situation, and the circumstances you find yourself in.

    It's also one thing to just keep your head down and ignore what's going on around, it's something else altogether when you're confronted with a direct plea for help.
     
  4. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    yes, of course, some would've said no way...some even turned Jews in......pretty disgusting, when you think of why they have to hide someone in the first place!
     
  5. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I agree. Those families throughout Germany that witnessed first hand the impending and swift persecution of Jewish people. People who were once friends and neighbors losing businesses and their rights before being marched away to the ghettos. It is hard to imagine a human being with any sense of compassion and decency not protesting. The fear that was injected into the German people was horrific.
     
  6. Elinor Florence

    Elinor Florence Active Member

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    The Yad Vashem website says some people offered to help just for a short time, or in a small way, and then found themselves willing to go farther, especially after they became acquainted with the Jews and saw their fear and suffering. It's a great website, and I recommend reading g more personal stories here:

    http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/stories/index.asp
     
  7. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I would like to say with no uncertainty that I would have helped to shelter Jews or other undesirables. But would I have actually put my own wife and children in danger to do so? I would like to think "yes", but I am a human, prone to self-preservation.

    I have profound respect for those who stepped out into the storm.
     
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  8. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

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    I echo that.
     
  9. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not ashamed to say the truth, probably not my family...[but, I've never been put in that situation ]....very interesting question!!!
     
  10. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    Has anyone heard of Sir Nicholas Winton? He was a stock broker, and he risked his life to save 669 children that were bound for the concentration/death camps and got them all to England. For 69 years he refused to take credit for what he had done, and I believe it wasn't until last year that it was discovered what he had done, because his wife found a scrapbook with pictures of the children that he saved. He is currently 105 years old.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29798434
     
  11. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    a lot of unsung heroes
     
  12. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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  13. Sandwichery

    Sandwichery Active Member

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    We all hope that we would do the right thing, but until you are actually in that situation you never know.
     
  14. gtblackwell

    gtblackwell Well-Known Member

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    Thanks , Elinor. The Yad Vashem website was very interesting and I will go back and read more. I grew up in infamous Selma, Alabama which had a large Jewish population which was industrious, prosperous and influential. .I felt fortunate to have had so many Jewish friends then and now. I spent a good bit of time in the Synagogue growing up. I think I would gladly risk my life to help both Jewish people and others persecuted during the Holocaust .
    When one extends the risk to their spouse and children then no one probably knows how they would act. . But a number of Europeans did just that, risk their families lives to help. As has been noted some turned in virtually anyone to gain favor for themselves. As bronk7 would say, a study in human behavior. We can certainly be terrible monsters at times. I hope I would have had that courage within to help..

    The Holocaust remains the most difficult thing for me to understand in my life I cannot understand how a nation of heretofore good people could be led astray like that.,my scary conclusion is that if it could happen in Germany it could happen anywhere and the victims could be a totally different group.. It is no doubt one of the reasons I have always been leery of extreme views, less they grow.. Human beings are certainly complex creatures, lovable and scary..
    ​Thinking about this makes be grateful and humble at the same time.

    Gaines
     
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  15. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    That got me thinking of the book that I am reading about Reserve Police Battalion 101 Gaines. It's shocking how many of those men were 'ordinary' and they had 'ordinary' professions before the war. What made these 'ordinary' men do what they did has always been a mystery to me.

    Even if there was a major risk on my life with saving Jews, I would take that risk, even if that meant hours of torture at the hands of the Gestapo or immediate execution.
     
  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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  17. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    That would make sense especially back then
     
  18. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    I think it is very simple...there have always been and always will be genocides [ Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Armenia,etc etc...it's part of what humans do...as is war, conflicts....isn't there always an underlying/in the shadows dislike, contempt,hatred,etc of 'others'/tribes/races/etc in most countries ???..put in a little propaganda and opportunity, and presto<>genocide...
     
  19. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Studying and reading about the Holocaust is difficult for me, too, Gaines. I just can't fathom how any person would have such hatred for anyone different that one would allow or participate in such a genocide. I like what Jeff said. Intellectually, I would like to say I would harbor the hunted. Reality says I should first think of what would happen to my family if discovered. I have read fairly extensively about both the victims and the perpetrators of the Holocaust and I still don't understand it. How could people allow themselves to be victims? How could some permit and participate in the degradation of others? My hat is off to those who saw fit to shelter others that put themselves in danger. They deserve all the plaudits and recognition they receive.
    A hard subject to read about. I don't know how I would respond if I was in that situation. My head spins just thinking about it.
     
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  20. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    And yet the genocides and atrocities continue. Rwanda, Bosnia, Nigeria, etc. :(
     

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