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A Righteous Few: Surviving in Hiding and Rescue

A young Danish Jew arrives in Sweden escorted by a Swedish policeman. CL:Museum of Denmark's Fight for Freedom. 1940-1945. Copenhagen
"Someone cared someone thought we were human beings worth saving." Susan Tabor, Survivor

Many ordinary but Courageous men and women in every country of occupied Europe showed compassion in helping Jewish victims of the Nazis. The names of such rescuers are largely unrecorded except in the memories of those they saved. Their decency often exposed them to death. Their behavior was atypical in their communities, where the majority of people were indifferent or collaborated in the persecution and murder of their Jewish neighbors.

Danish Jews on their way to safety in Sweden. In early October 1943, over 90% of Denmark's Jews were saved with the help of thousands of their countrymen. CL:Museum of Denmark's Fight for Freedom, 1940-1945, Copenhagen

Mathilda Nitsch, a Yugoslav Roman Catholic, ran an underground station and saved one hundred families. CL:Leni Sonnenfeld

Raoul Wallenberg at work in Budapest. CL:Wallenberg Family

Despite overwhelming odds, more than 4,000 Jews survived in hiding in Berlin; several thousand in the Netherlands; and tens of thousands in occupied Poland, where millions were murdered. Statistics on the number of rescuers and the number of those saved are very incomplete, but more than 100,000 Jews were assisted or saved by these courageous men and women in occupied Europe. While world leaders, popes, presidents, and prime ministers remained silent on the fate of millions, these courageous individuals risked their lives to shelter the persecuted.

Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, printed Swedish passports and handed them to Hungarian Jews being transported to the East in the summer and fall of 1944. The Swedish blue and gold protective passport, Schutzpass saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Raoul Wallenberg (marked with X) handing out schutzpasses at deportation train. CL:Wallenberg Family

"In late October...Arrow-Cross gangs rounded up Jews from the ghetto houses between the ages of 14 and 65. My mother and I were taken on that first round- up...The armed guards forced us to march quickly: those who could not keep up were shot...We were herded into a brick factory...Armed Nazis walked around stepping on people, abusing them, cursing and shooting...Then suddenly, at one end of the building, we saw people in civilian clothes with a loudspeaker and flashlights-and there was Raoul Wallenberg...Can you fathom the impact of what his being there meant to us?" Susan Tabor, Survivor

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