Women saviors of the holocaust

The names of the most famous saviors of the Holocaust are widely known. Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat and the namesake of this organization saved tens of thousands of Jewish families and individuals. Oscar Schindler became famous following Spielberg’s movie. Both men operated large-scale operations and saved thousands of people.

However, the worth of these men is not determined by the number of people they saved but by each individual life. If one compares the number of people killed during the Holocaust with the number of people saved, it may seem relatively few. Though intuitively this calculation does not make sense. Any calculation of human life is offensive, because every life represents unlimited potential. Therefore every individual saved, every act of dissent was noble and courageous.

It is in this light that one can consider the incalculable contributions of female saviors of the Holocaust. Numerous women, through acts of dissent, acts of courage and ingenuity, saved lives. These women, many of them known only to those who they saved, showed the courage and humanism of well-known saviors such as Wallenberg.

Another thought to consider when reading these stories is the type of person each of these women was and the challenges they faced. It is this consideration that makes their stories relevant today and for all of history. It may be surprising that as one reads these accounts it seems as though these women are no different than many people we know. These women worked factory and office jobs in the cities, raised their children in the rural communities and had common friendships. These were everyday women compelled by common beliefs. Some came from deeply religious backgrounds that instilled in them the belief that one must, ”love thy neighbor as they love thyself.” Others originated from schools of political thought, which put them in conflict with the ideals of the Nazis. Still others were children, whose simple adherence to instincts like friendship, loyalty and kindness compelled them to act out against what they thought was wrong.

These women of a common mold chose to stand for their beliefs in a thoroughly oppressive society. Overt, large-scale dissent did not exist in Germany because Nazi oppression was so overwhelming and invasive. A protest through the streets of Germany would have resulted in prison or death of its participants. Dissenters not only had to evade Nazi secret police, the Gestapo and government agents, but hostile spying neighbors and community organizations loyal to the Nazis. Dissenters’s only truly safe outlet was their own thoughts. But as you read these stories you will witness acts of courage and ingenuity that accomplished dissent within this unimaginatively oppressive society.

The significant conclusion of all of this is that regardless of who the person is, regardless of society and circumstances, one can always achieve some sort of dissent against what you think is wrong. In the free world we enjoy many avenues of protest but we can still feel the frustration of feeling that we cannot change the system in which we are living. Imagine the feeling of hopelessness, powerlessness and frustration that these women felt when their entire communities drifted away from them. These women, with no representation, in instances not even a fellow citizen to confide in, conquered powerlessness and became a symbol of the power of an individual.

The women whose stories are written below were common, normal people motivated by common virtues and beliefs who had a momentous, incalculable impact on the world. For each person saved, an individual life of limitless potential, and for every act of dissent, evidence that evil will always be fought against.