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The Holocaust History Project.
The Holocaust History Project.

Righteous Gentiles


At school we are starting a course on the Holocaust. I have been doing extra research and have been reading about the treatment of Jews, gas chambers, concentration camps and so on. I myself am a Jew and often imagine what I would do if I was experiance such a thing as the Holocaust. I am becoming increasingly worried that there was absolutely no aid given for Jews. My question to you is, were the Jews offered any protection? I know of non Jews who would hide Jews away such as Anne Frank, but supposing one did not come across anyone willing to help. What would be the next step of survival for them? Thank you very much for your time in reading this.

Andrew Mathis responds:

You ask a very good question. To begin with, I will suggest two links for you to look at regarding aid to the Jews during the war:


This link deals with the steps (not) taken by the Allies to prevent the Holocaust. http://www.yadvashem.org.il/righteous/bycountry/index.html

This link, from the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, shows the number of Gentiles who saved Jewish lives during the war.

To return to your question, a Jew not saved or hidden by a non-Jewish family was left to fend for him- or herself. I suggest you have a look at Jerzy Kosinski's fact-based novel The Painted Bird for an example of how a Jewish boy managed to survive the Nazi occupation of Poland without being encamped.

Finally, keep in mind that thousands of Jews served in the Armed forces of the Allied nations in which they lived or which they migrated -- particularly in the Soviet Union, but also in the Free French forces under Charles de Gaulle, in North Africa against Rommel's Afrikan Korps, and in the U.S. and U.K. armed forces.

I hope this information provides some leads.

Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.


I am a final year student at Manchester Metropolitan University doing a degree in History with English.

My dissertation is on non-Jewish rescuers of Jewish people during the Holocaust and their motives and intentions, I would very much appreciate it if you could provide some help on specific texts or internet websites or anything else that could provide me with some knowledge and research for my dissertation topic.

Andrew Mathis answers:

I am one of the volunteers who answers questions submitted to the Holocaust History Project.

I think a good place to start is the Web site of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial Museum, particularly its section dedicated to "Righteous Gentiles" who saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust:


One of the most prolific savers of human lives during the Holocaust was Raoul Wallenberg, whom you can read about here:


And, of course, there is Oskar Schindler, perhaps the best-known non-Jewish savior of Jewish lives:


I hope this helps. Best of luck.

Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.

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Last modified: October 8, 2000
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