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The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust

by Martin Gilbert

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I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it was nothing if not thorough, full of thousands of tales of human decency and tender courage in the face of death. I believe people have a duty to remember the heroes of history, and the Righteous Gentiles were certainly heroes. There are so many inspirational and touching tales in here.

On the other hand, though...I was kind of disappointed by the book too. Martin Gilbert is an internationally recognized historian, and I've been impressed by other books of his I've read. His analyses are spot-on.

But this book HAD no analyses. There was no attempt to interpret the stories, to try to explain why the Righteous acted as they did and so many others didn't. Neither did Gilbert compare and contrast the Righteous Gentiles in different countries, although each country does have its own section.

Instead of that, it's just story after story after heroic story. Almost like a list: "Such-and-such family got saved by these guys, who hid them in a shed. And this guy was saved by this person, and in the same town, So-and-so saved fifteen Jews..." I confess the stories rapidly began to run together and I struggled to finish the book.

For what it's worth, I probably couldn't have done any better. After all, the stories ARE basically the same: someone, at great personal risk, does the right thing and saves lives. I don't know how to provide a comprehensive history of Righteous Gentiles without being repetitive. I just wish it didn't have to be like that. ( )
  meggyweg | Feb 26, 2013 |
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  Kittydane | Jul 16, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805062602, Hardcover)

The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust

Drawing from twenty-five years of original research, Sir Martin Gilbert re-creates the remarkable stories of non-Jews who risked their lives to help Jews during the Holocaust

According to Jewish tradition, "Whoever saves one life, it is as if he saved the entire world." Non-Jews who helped save Jewish lives during World War II are designated Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust archive in Jerusalem. In The Righteous, distinguished historian Sir Martin Gilbert, through extensive interviews, explores the courage of those who-throughout Germany and in every occupied country from Norway to Greece, from the Atlantic to the Baltic-took incredible risks to help Jews whose fate would have been sealed without them. Indeed, many lost their lives for their efforts.

Those who hid Jews included priests, nurses, teachers, neighbors and friends, employees and colleagues, soldiers and diplomats, and, above all, ordinary citizens. From Greek Orthodox Princess Alice of Greece, who hid Jews in her home in Athens, to the Ukrainian Uniate Archbishop of Lvov, who hid hundreds of Jews in his churches and monasteries, to Muslims in Bosnia and Albania, many risked, and lost, everything to help their fellow man.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Having chronicled the horrors of Nazi-dominated Europe in major works on the Holocaust and the Second World War, the distinguished historian Sir Martin Gilbert now turns his attention to the subject of altruism in that period. In this extraodinary volume, Gilbert re-creates the stories of hundreds of non-Jews who, during the Holocaust, risked their lives to help save Jews from deportation and death. Drawing on twenty-five years of original research, Gilbert takes us through Germany and every occupied country from Norway to Greece, from the Atlantic to the Baltic, where the Righteous, by their lifesaving actions, challenged Nazi barbarism. The Greek Orthodox Princess Alice, who hid Jewish families in her Athens home; a Polish woman, "the Angel of Lvov," who worked closely with the Roman Catholic Church to obtain false certificates of baptism for those in imminent danger; and Albanian Muslims, who disguised Jews as their own brethren in order for them to be saved, are just a few of the Righteous whom we encounter within these pages. Others were priests and nuns, teachers and diplomats, colleagues and neighbors: above all, "ordinary" men and women, decent human beings. According to Jewish tradition, "Whoever saves one life; it is as if he saved the entire world." The Righteous of Martin Gilbert's book certainly upheld that ideal, as they inspire us with their righteous acts to this day.… (more)

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