The Righteous Among the Nations
COURAGE TO CARE tells the stories of the Righteous Among the Nations, through the testimony of Holocaust survivors whose lives were saved by the extraordinary actions of ordinary people.
Non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust, often at great personal risk, are honoured by Yad Vashem – the national authority for the Remembrance of the Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust in Israel – as the Righteous Among the Nations.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party came to power in Germany. Although the party was democratically elected, a Nazi dictatorship incrementally and rapidly took control over all cultural, economic and political activities of the people.
Millions were persecuted under Nazi rule because of their race, political conviction, religious belief or social behaviour. Among them were Jews, Jews of mixed descent, political dissidents, communists, anti-fascists and other resistance fighters, rebellious juveniles, “anti-social individuals”, Gypsies, homosexuals, the intellectually and physically disabled, forced labourers and prisoners of war – and all the non-Jews who stood up to help save any of these people.
Over 11 million people were killed in Europe between January 1933 and May 1945, including six million Jewish children, men and women. This systematic annihilation which took place between January 1933 and May 1945 is known as the Holocaust or Shoah.
In all countries occupied by the Nazis, there were individuals who were prepared to risk their lives to rescue others from persecution and death. These individuals were the exceptions – upstanders in an enormous sea of bystanders.
Because of their valiant and heroic efforts, thousands of Jews were rescued from the clutches of the Nazis and certain death.
The Yad Vashem project was established in 1963 . Each case for recognition of a new Righteous person goes to a public Commission headed by a Supreme Court Judge for examination. Those recognised as Righteous receive a medal and a certificate of honour and their names are commemorated on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem. By saving Jews and others, these people proved that rescue was possible and by doing so they enhanced the dignity of humanity. More than 17,000 such people have been honoured. Only a few live in Australia.