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The Rescuer Self

  1. For purposes of exploring the social-psychological phenomenon of aid under conditions of terror, the focus will be on those non-Jews whom Yad Vashem deems Hasidei Umot Ha Olam, "righteous among the nations of the world," those whose acts of rescue were not performed for external reward.
  2. E. Fogelman, Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust (New York: Doubleday, 1994); Fogelman, The Rescuers: A Socio-psychological study of altruistic behavior during the Nazi era, unpublished doctoral dissertation, City University of New York, 1987.
  3. K. R. Monroe, "John Donne's people: Explaining altruism through cognitive frameworks," The Journal of Politics, 53, (1991) pp. 394-433.
  4. Fogelman, 1987 and 1994; S. Oliner and P. Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, (New York: Free Press, 1988). U. Klingemann, and J. W. Falter, "Hilfe fur Juden wahrend des Holocaust: Sozialpsychologische Merkmale der Nichtjudischen Helfer und Charakteristika der Situation", in press. J. Ryeykowski, "Cognitive and Motivational Prerequisites of Altruistic Helping: the Study of People Sho Rescued Jews During the Holocaust," paper presented at The Scholar's Roundtable on Altruism Under Nazi Terror: Implications for the Post-Holocaust World, Princeton, 1993. D. Rosenhan, "What Qualifies as Altruistic Behavior During the Holocaust?," paper presented at The Scholar's Roundtable on Altruism Under Nazi Terror: Implications for the Post-holocaust World, Princeton, 1993.
  5. D. Goleman, Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985).
  6. B. Latanי and J. Darley, The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He Help? (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1970).
  7. E. Midlarsky, "Competence and Helping: Notes Toward a Model." (Development and Maintenance of Prosocial Behavior: International Perspectives on Positive Morality, New York, 1984), pp. 291-308.
  8. S. Oliner and P. Oliner, The Altruistic Personality, (New York: Basic Books, 1988).
  9. Perry London suggested an element of "social marginality" among rescuers. Their alienation made them more sympathetic to another outside group. "The Rescuers: Motivational Hypotheses about Christians Who Saved Jews from the Nazis," In J. Macauley & L. Berkowitz, eds., Altruism and Helping behavior (New York: Academic Press, 1970), pp. 241-250. Like London, Nechama Tec's in her study of Polish rescuers When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986) found that rescuers stood out within their environment, for example, an intellectual among peasants or a communist among Catholic believers. But she explains this as individualism which enabled them to stand up for their beliefs. These individualists could stand up to malevolent authority and resist racist norms. I too found rescuers to be independent people. However, the vast majority of rescuers felt a sense of belonging to their community. In my initial interviews with of 100 rescuers, only 29 felt they were atypical. This difference may be attributed to the fact that my sample and the altruistic personality study include rescuers from different occupied countries. To be a rescuer in a country known for its antisemitism required a rare individual indeed.
  10. R. J. Lifton, The Life of the Self: Toward a New Psychology (New York: Touchstone, 1976).
  11. P. Joutard, J. Poujol and P. Cabanel, (eds.), Cévennes Terre De Refuge 1940-1944 (Montpellier: Presses Du Langeudoc/Club Cevenol, 1987), p.242.
  12. Gies, pp. 121 and 150.
  13. R. Wuthnow, Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves. (Lawrence, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991) pp. 49-50.
  14. Thirty-two percent of those interviewed for my study The Rescuer Project, Graduate Center of City University of New York, were coded as belonging to the moral rescuer category. Within that group, 14 percent were ideological-moral rescuers; 12 percent were religious, and 6 percent were emotional. In general, emotional-moral and religious moral rescuers were more involved in saving children than ideological moral rescuers.
  15. Jean Piaget, The Moral Judgement of the Child (New York: Free Press, Originally 1932, 1965).
  16. Eli Sagan. Freud, Women, and Morality: The Psychology of Good and Evil (New York: Basic Books, 1988) Sagan's contention of a separate conscience that limits the superego has informed and influenced my work. His notion of a conscience that passes judgement on the conflicting pulls in the superego is one that I share.
  17. Gilligan describes two different moralities based on cognition and affect. Like her predecessor Lawrence Kohlberg she found that morality can stem from an individual's sense of justice and fairness or responsibility imbedded in compassion and caring and pity. Unlike Kohlberg, Gilligan does not consider justice a higher morality than caring and responsibility.
  18. The Rescuer Project found that Judeophiles comprised 28 percent of those who risked their lives to save Jews, ranking them just behind those in the moral rescuer category. Eighty-two percent of those classified as Judeophiles came from apolitical families and some 29 percent of them came from mixed marriages. "Philo-Semitism," as used by various scholars, is a vague, generalized term, usually applied descriptively to indicate the supposed attitude of specific individuals who, in the opinion of the scholar, benefit or assist Jews. There have been few efforts to examine the term, to offer any detailed definition of it, or to analyze its causes or specific applications. Cecil Roth is unique in suggesting a basis for philo-Semitism, but he does not discuss what is meant by the term itself. Moreover, Roth's analysis is limited, being concerned essentially with the period in English history when Jews were readmitted to that nation. There has been, in short, no systematic inquiry into the meaning, application, or types of philo-Semitism. Allan Edelstein of Towson University has undertaken the task of developing a systematic analysis of philo-semitism. A. Edelstein (1982). An Unacknowledged Harmony. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
  19. This fact that many of the rescuers suspected they had Jewish blood had escaped my attention until Harvey Sarner pointed it out to me. Sarner, a retired California businessman, has dedicated his energies to finding those East European rescuers honored by Yad Vashem and flying them to Israel for the public recognition they deserve. Sarner observed that many of the rescuers he talked with told him they suspected that they had Jewish blood.
  20. Professionals who obeyed a higher law, one that involved upholding an oath of office to serve mankind, did not necessarily have to take death-defying risks. In southern France, some gendarmes protected their citizenry and themselves by following their orders to the letter. Before carrying out an arrest, for instance, two gendarmes would go to a local bistro for lunch first. In a loud voice, one might say to the other: "Look Pierre I see here that we have to pick up Max Cohen on Rue Jacob #15." They would continue to enjoy their meal, hoping all the while that someone would pass the word on to Cohen. After lunch, they would go to arrest Cohen only to be told he left yesterday. They would then place an X next to the man's name. They had fulfilled their assignment. Alas, they had come a day too late to make the required arrest.
  21. George Simmel, "The Secret and the Secret Society," in Kurt H. Wolff (ed) The Sociology of George Simmel (New York, 1950).
  22. Network rescuers accounted for 22 percent of those I interviewed. The majority had attended college (36 percent) or graduate school (27 percent). Over 90 percent of these were involved in more than five rescues, episodes which usually involved helping fifteen persons or more. Forty-one percent rescued 100-2,500 people; 23 percent rescued 15-50, and 18 percent helped 1-7. Over 90 percent were "professional rescuers," whose fulltime occupation was rescuing.
  23. S. Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, New York: Bantam, (1960)p. 23.
  24. Children of rescuing families who were not involved in rescues, are not recognized as Hasidei Umot Ha'Olam. Nechama Tec, who studied Polish rescuers, recognizes "extensivity" as universalistic perception of the Jew not as a Jew, but rather, a helpless being who needed protection. This value derived came from how children saw their parents interacting with "others" in their community, and what they had been told as children if they made deragatory remarks against someone different from them.
  25. F. Grossman, (1983, July 22). Righteous Gentiles. Scarsdale Enquirier. (Also appeared June 17, 1982, Greenberg Enquirer, p. 7.) F. Grossman, Psychological Study of Gentiles Who Saved Jews. In I. Charney (Ed.), Toward the Understanding of Holocaust and Prevention of Genocide (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1984), pp.202-216.