Righteous Gentiles and Courageous Jews

Acknowledging and Honoring Rescuers of Jews

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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Since 1962, Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust memorial, has pursued a program to honor non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. Basically, every non-Jewish person who saved at least one Jewish person, while placing his or her own life and freedom at risk, and exacted no payment as a precondition for such help, and the story's evidence is confirmed by beneficiary party—then such a person may qualify to the traditional Jewish title for non-Jews, of Righteous Among the Nations. To date, some 23,500 persons, from all walks of life have been awarded this prestigious title. However, while many of these honorees worked in tandem with Jewish rescuers, no similar program exists for the latter. Recent Holocaust historiography has uncovered stories of many Jewish rescuers, who either worked individually or in conjunction with Jewish clandestine organizations, to save dozens and hundreds of their coreligionists. In doing this, they multiplied the risks to themselves as Jews on the run, of being uncovered by the Nazis and suffering the fate reserved for all Jews under the Final Solution program. This article underlines the need for the creation of a program to identify and acknowledge the role of Jewish rescuers to Jews.