Prepared to Die in the Cause of Life

During World War II thousands upon thousands of Christians freely risked and gave up their live in the service of others. The odds were against them and they knew death could come at any moment, yet they rejected the evil of the holocaust and risked everything in the cause of life. Who are they, and what did they do?

Stanlee Stahl of the The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous:

The Germans employed the concept of collective responsibility against the Poles who helped saved Jews. Collective responsibility remained an awesome reality. All Poles knew that to help Jews was to risk one's life as well as those of their family. Equally chilling was the practice of public executions -- the Germans wanted eyewitness accounts. If you were caught hiding a Jew in Poland you and your family were killed. If you denounced a Pole who was hiding a Jew you received a pound of sugar and a pair of boots. That was what a Jew's life was worth.

What kind of people were rescuers? Rescuers came from all walks of life - they were peasants, laborers, middle class and intellectuals. They were rich and poor, educated and illiterate. Some were in the clergy - individual priests and nuns did help shelter Jews.

Why did they do what they did? When asked, most will tell you that they did nothing special. They don't consider themselves to be heroes. They did what any Christian would do or what any Pole, Dane or Frenchman would have done under similar circumstances.

I want my son and all of our children to know the entire story -- the killers of the dream, the sadists and torturers of innocence. But equally I want him to know these significant others. I want all of our children to be exposed as I have been to precious persons such as Irena Sendler who smuggled more than 1,000 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto. I want them to know that she was captured and tortured by the Gestapo, yet she did not reveal the names and the hiding places of the children.

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