Saving One's Own: Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust

Saving One's Own: Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust

Saving One's Own: Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust

Saving One's Own: Jewish Rescuers during the Holocaust


In this remarkable, historically significant book, Mordecai Paldiel recounts in vivid detail the many ways in which, at great risk to their own lives, Jews rescued other Jews during the Holocaust. In so doing he puts to rest the widely held belief that all Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe wore blinders and allowed themselves to be led like "lambs to the slaughter." Paldiel documents how brave Jewish men and women saved thousands of their fellow Jews through efforts unprecedented in Jewish history.

Encyclopedic in scope and organized by country, Saving One's Own tells the stories of hundreds of Jewish activists who created rescue networks, escape routes, safe havens, and partisan fighting groups to save beleaguered Jewish men, women, and children from the Nazis. The rescuers' dramatic stories are often shared in their own words, and Paldiel provides extensive historical background and documentation.

The untold story of these Jewish heroes, who displayed inventiveness and courage in outwitting the enemy-- and in saving literally thousands of Jews--is finally revealed.


I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1937 into a Jewish family that had left Poland to seek a better life. in May 1940, in the wake of the German invasion, we fled to France and were constantly on the move, first in the Vichy zone and then in the Italian zone. Finally, in September 1943, we crossed illegally into Switzerland with the help of a Catholic priest, Simon Gallay, who was later honored as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the museum in Jerusalem and Israel’s national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. At the end of the war my family returned to Belgium, and then in 1950 we left for the United States. I made aliyah in 1962; earned a ba degree in economics and political science at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, saw action in the 1967 Six-Day War, and married and raised three children. in 1982 I received a PhD in Holocaust studies from Temple University, Philadelphia.

From 1982 to 2007, I headed the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem, whose mission it is to identify and honor non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. in that capacity I was instrumental in adding some 18,000 names to the Righteous roster, and I have written books and articles on the subject. It is while I was doing that work that I came across many stories of Jewish rescuers who worked in tandem with non-Jewish ones. While the non-Jewish rescuers were duly acknowledged and justifiably honored by the Jewish people through Yad Vashem, the Jewish ones were left out in the cold, as there was no program similar to the Righteous Gentiles to praise and honor their courageous deeds.

Having retired from Yad Vashem in 2007 and begun teaching at Stern College and Touro College, both in New York, I decided to devote my time to writing a book about these brave Jews, based on material at Yad Vashem and elsewhere. I feel that the worldwide Jewish community needs to know about its own Holocaust heroes—people who did not necessarily take a gun to fight the Nazis (although a number of them did, the Jewish partisans), but rather felt that the greatest immediate need was to save . . .

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