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The Other Schindlers: Why Some People Chose to Save Jews in the Holocaust, by Agnes Grunwald-Spier

Stroud, Glou. The History Press/Chicago: Trafalgar Square, 2011. Pp. 286. Illus., appends., notes, biblio., index. $26.95 paper. ISBN: 987-0-7524-5706-2.

The Other Schindlers takes an anecdotal and analytical look at the diverse reasons that, at great risk of their own lives, prompted literally tens of thousands of people in Germany, occupied Europe, and other places to reach out and help Jews during Hitler’s campaign of extermination.  As she notes in her introduction, Grunwald-Spier, herself saved as an infant by the actions of an unknown Nazi officer, most of the rescuers were, and will forever remain, anonymous, though many certain paid dearly for their efforts. 

Using the personal stories of some scores of the rescued, Grunwald-Spier illustrates the many different ways in which people were saved, such as quick thinking in crises, violent action, quiet concealment, casual acts of kindness, bureaucratic paper-shuffling, and more.  Rescuers were ordinary housewives, soldiers, diplomats, Resistance fighters, nuns, Nazi officials, and more.

Grunwald-Spiersees the rescuers – many honored by Israel with the title “Righteous Among the Nations”, but most not – as falling into several categories.  Some people were motivated by their religious beliefs, others by a shared humanity, many by patriotism, rescuing Jews as part of their work in the Resistance, still others by personal loyalty to friends, neighbors, or business associates, and so forth.  The final section of the book addresses the question of why in all countries, most people stood aside. 

An important contribution to the literature on the Holocaust, The Other Schindlers also reminds us that the war was not just between armies.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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