Courageous Women And Children Of The Holocaust

Last Updated: Friday, September 15, 2017

Survivors of the Holocaust are often described as courageous. But, it only takes a limited amount of courage to save your own life because the will to live is inherent in all humans and all animals.

The truly courageous are the rescuers -- the ones who risked their own lives, the lives of their families or their own comfort or status to help save the lives of others.

It was not easy. Many of the rescuers would die if one of their neighbors found out. Even your own neighbor could turn you in to be executed. It was also not fashionable -- not the thing to do. It was much easier to look the other way and say, "What can I do?"

In Poland, it was a crime punishable by execution if you or anyone in your family was suspected of aiding a Jew. There was no court or trial. Executions were done quickly and publicly -- with no regard to right or wrong.

Most rescuers are NOT listed at Yad Vashem. Why? The Jewish memorial known as Righteous of the Nations has very strict guidelines for inclusion in their famous list. Testimony of witnesses is mandatory. But, many rescuers died alone. Many courageous rescuers failed to save the lives of their Jewish families. Sometimes entire rescuer families and all witnesses were executed. There were also thousands of anonymous rescuers -- people who helped secretly and quietly but were never recognized. Yad Vashem's venerable list only includes a small percentage of the actual rescuers.

The Children - Their Power Underestimated

The innocence of youth often enabled young adults and children to go unnoticed -- allowing them much more access to the victims. A young child could more easily sneak a loaf of bread through a hole in the ghetto fence.

Two young lovers walking hand-in-hand carrying clandestine messages would not be readily suspected of being couriers for the Resistance or Polish Underground.

Also, there is something about the youth, especially teens, that allows them to have no fear of dying. They often cannot be convinced that life on Earth has an end. This brazen philosophy kills many teens in automobile accidents -- but this fearlessness also makes them brave. Their stories are inspirational testaments to their often-underestimated power.

The Women - Their Capabilities Underestimated

Many women were left alone at home while their men fought in the streets and forests. Because of the inherent nature of the female, many women became heroines ten times over.

Who would have suspected, "Babcza," the old lady, her head covered with a brightly flowered babushka, selling apples from a cart of being a secret liaison for the underground resistance movement? One pocket of her apron held coins for making change, but the other pocket held cryptic messages that she passed to a young man who uttered the correct coded words.

In My Hands: Memories Of A Student Nurse Who Rescued Jews ( / By: Irene Gut Opdyke