'He who saves one life, it is as if he saved an entire world'
The Holocaust will be forever numbered amongst the darkest of days in human civilisation. Yet even in that darkness, there were sparks of light. Many will recognise the names of Oskar Schindler, Raoul Wallenberg and Miep Gies. But there were thousands of others throughout Europe who risked their own lives to save Jews from the Nazis and their horrific campaign of obliteration that was the Holocaust.
By the beginning of 2002, more than 19,000 non-Jews had been recognized as Righteous (Among the Nations) by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Some were officials, some were clergy; others were citizens of countries who united in their efforts to protect Jews. Many were merely individuals who had the courage to stand up against a growing tide of collaboration and simply say: 'We did what we had to do'.
Martin Gilbert, the foremost British historian of the Holocaust, here presents the evidence collected over many years. Cumulatively, these accounts, from every occupied country in Europe, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, from the Atlantic to the Black Sea, and from inside the Third Reich itself, form an inspiring tribute to those heroic individuals who, without thought to the risk to their own lives, dared to challenge barbarism, and hold out the hand of rescue to the Jews of Europe.
A timely book for a new century... The questions raised in this book lie at the heart of our humanity.
Martin Gilbert brings together some remarkable stories of courage and ingenuity.
The paperback of the year was Martin Gilbert's THE RIGHTEOUS. It is heartbreaking yet inspiring, an account of people who risked their lives, and worse, to shelter Jews during the Second World War. I beg everyone to read it.
Retold here by Martin Gilbert with his customary quiet authority ... the stories of the many "righteous" remembered by Gilbert in his account of human goodness, are the true seeds of hope that survived the Holocaust.
Two implicit demands are made of us by Gilbert's powerful book. They are, most obviously: where would you and I have stood? And the question which also provides the probable answer: what if the 19,000 [Righteous] had been 19 million?