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5 Ways Righteous Gentiles Saved Jews in Europe During the Holocaust

Righteous Gentiles hid Jews in their homes, provided Jews with forged documents, assisted their escape, saved children and provided encouragement and support to the Jews hiding

| 29.01.19 | 11:09
By Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-N0827-318 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5367208
Righteous Gentiles helped the Jews of Europe escape the wrath of the Nazis during the Holocaust. This was at the risk of getting killed themselves. Here are some of the methods thay employed to save Jews from getting killed by the Nazis:
 
1. Hiding Jews in the homes of rescuers or in their farms: In rural Eastern Europe, hiding places or bunkers were dug under houses, cowsheds and barns, where Jews could be hidden from view. Jews were hidden in attics, forest hideouts and anywhere else that might be able to provide shelter and hiding, even in cemeteries, sewers and zoo animal cages. In addition to the constant danger of being caught and killed, the physical conditions of these places were often unbearable. Those hiding lived in crowded, dark, and cold conditions. Rescuers also feared discovery. They made sure to provide food to those hiding - a difficult task for poor families especially during wartime. They also cleaned the refuse of those hiding that had no access to toilets with sewers. Sometimes they presented the Jews as non-Jews, relatives of rescuers or adopted children. Jews were also hidden in hiding apartments in the cities, children were left in convents, and the nuns hid their true identity. In Western Europe Jews hid mainly in houses, farms, and monasteries.
 
2. Creating false papers and false identities:  For Jews to adopt a non-Jewish identity, they needed forged papers and assistance in order to survive under false identities. In these cases, the rescuers were counterfeiters or clerks who issued forged documents, clergymen who forged the baptism certificates and foreign diplomats who issued visas, passports, or certificates of protection against their country’s policies. In late 1944, foreign diplomats in Budapest issued protective papers to Jews and draped the flags of their countries on homes claiming that the inhabitants of these houses are under the protection of their country. German rescuers, such as Oskar Schindler and Berthold Beitz, used excuses and misled the Germans to protect the Jews from deportation claiming that their workers were necessary for the German war effort.

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Raoul Wallenberg Passport Picture  Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41825

3. Smuggling and helping Jews escape: Rescuers helped Jews leave dangerous areas to less dangerous areas. They smuggled Jews out of ghettos and prisons and helped them cross borders into countries not occupied by the Germans. These countries included: neutral Switzerland, to areas under Italian control from which Jews were not deported or to Hungary before the German occupation in March 1944.
 
4. Saving children:  Parents faced the agonizing dilemma of separating from their children and handing them over to strangers, hoping that they would survive. Children who already lost their parents were adopted by families or monasteries. Many families chose to take a child and hide him. In Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, there were underground organizations that found homes for children, helped with money, food and medical means, and made sure the children were properly treated.

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Swedish Protection Paper issued by Raoul Wallenberg

5. Encouragement and support: - Lorenzo Perrone, a Righteous Gentile, saved Primo Levi during the war. After the war, Levy described Lorenzo's humanity as one of the main factors that helped him cope, and Levy said: "If there is any way to understand why I was saved from thousands of other people, I believe that it was because of Lorenzo's help. Not necessarily for his physical assistance. His attitude toward me and his actions with his simple manner and goodness reminded me every day that there was still a humane and just world on the other side of the barbed wire fence. Not everything is corrupt and cruel. There are still places in the world where hatred and fear don’t exist. Though at that moment this was cloudy and uncertain it was worth trying to survive to return to those places.”

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​Berthold Beitz, By Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1986-0226-333,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13335695

Berthold Beitz, saved many Jews employing them in his oil company and also encouraged them. It was important for the labor camp inmates as their daily bread ration to know that there was someone close by who shared their pain and that they could turn to. Many survivors said that when they despaired Beitz always strengthened them with the vision that their suffering would soon end. Beitz also encouraged them by saying that he, as a German, was ashamed of the crimes of his countrymen.