Tim's Reviews > The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust

The Righteous by Martin  Gilbert
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Oct 11, 2008

it was amazing
Read in October, 2008

Another on the Holocaust ... I know, I know, I've got to move on.

But this was very uplifting, though tedious at the same time, because so many of the stories were similar. Someone at great risk helped a Jew to survive.

And yet - the author methodically moves from one country to another describing the heroic acts there, and how a whole Jewish agency, Yad Vashem, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority was established to chronicle these acts, and name those who helped others as "Righteous Among the Nations" (See the website http://www.yadvashem.org/)

Probably three things stood out for me:
That Italy and Italians never had a racial animosity towards Jews, though they were certainly infected with militarism. And the author singled out Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Italy for principled and widespread resistance.

Sweden, Switzerland were two countries that somehow positioned themselves as neutral - but that was a wonderful status, and many underground movements developed human pipelines through which to send Jews to a haven of survival.

I had not heard of instances in Albania and Kosovo, where the Muslim population had many "righteous" helping Jews survive. On the island of Rhodes in the mediteranean, one story was given of an Imam at a Mosque, offering a Rabbi a safe place to story some holy Jewish writings. The Rabbi agreed, the sacred texts hidden by the Imam, and returned to him after the war.

The book ends with an afterword, where the author muses on how so many acquiesced to the propaganda or participated in the terror, and yet everywhere there were always some who did resist through the act of being compassionate to those being hunted down. What is it in human nature that can so dramatically sink so low, and yet in direct opposition, examples of such high moral acts.

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