Social Dimensions of Rescue in the Holocaust

  • Mary J. Gallant


As socio-historians review the Holocaust, it is the silence of the bystanders that is considered the most prevalent social response, not rescue. But in the last twenty years scholars have increasingly taken inspiration from the ideal of rescue as a critical aspect of the picture of humanity to be entered into the record along with the saga of torture, carnage and wanton destruction representing the 20th century. Witnessing the condemnation of innocents of all ages during the Holocaust, individuals involved in rescue risked their own lives so that those in danger might be saved (see Rubenstein and Roth, 1987:363; Fogelman and Wiener, 1985). Examples of rescue in the Holocaust usually contain some reference to a wider context in community life, less visible, less publicized perhaps than other elements of the heroic tale, and in which social factors appear to have some salience. Acts of rescue during the Holocaust were accomplished within networks of resistance in various nations, as for instance the Kindertransport into Britain in 1938–39, the various efforts of the World Jewish Congress to arrange for the rescue of children, as well as the contribution of the fishermen of Denmark, Holland and Sweden, who kept a flow of refugees streaming out of occupied Europe and into safe haven in Britain throughout much of the Nazi occupation. Rescue is also associated with the effort in Le Chambon sur Lignon in the French Alps. What we see in Holocaust rescue narratives are strong characters active within a wider field of community as the action unfolds.


Concentration Camp Community Life Fishing Boat Jewish Child Nazi Occupation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Mary J. Gallant

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