Cover image for The righteous : the unsung heroes of the Holocaust
The righteous : the unsung heroes of the Holocaust
Gilbert, Martin, 1936-2015.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 529 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references (p. 463-478) and index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D804.65 .G45 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
D804.65 .G45 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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.

Author Notes

Martin Gilbert was born in London, England on October 25, 1936. He was sent to Canada during World War II, but returned on a liner bringing American troops to Britain in preparation for D-day. After national service in the intelligence corps, he was educated at Magdalen College at Oxford. He graduated from Oxford in 1960 and wrote his first book entitled The Appeasers.

In 1961, after a year of research and writing, he was asked to join a team of researchers working for Winston Churchill. At the age of 25, he was formally inducted into the team, doing all of his own research. Gilbert became known as Churchill's official biographer, but he also wrote books on the Holocaust, the first and second world wars, and Jewish history. During his lifetime, he wrote over 80 books including Winston Churchill, Auschwitz and the Allies, The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy, The Jews of Hope: The Plight of Soviet Jewry Today, Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time, Letters to Auntie Fori: The 5,000-Year History of the Jewish People and Their Faith, and In Search of Churchill. He died after a long illness on February 3, 2015 at the age of 78.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Holocaust was a dreary commentary on the human condition for more than just the obvious reason. While the horrifying savagery of those who carried out mass murder comes immediately to mind, the passive acquiescence of millions who stood by as their fellow citizens were abused and slaughtered is equally depressing. There were, however, "righteous Gentiles" (to use the Jewish term) who risked their lives to hide Jews or smuggle them to safety. Gilbert, best known for his biography of Churchill, shows that these courageous people came from all European social classes and ethnic groups. They included Catholic priests and nuns, Greek aristocrats, Polish villagers, and Bosnian Muslims. Many of them braved social ostracism, and some were betrayed and imprisoned for their efforts. On one level, this work is an uplifting tribute to the power of individuals willing to stand for common decency. Unfortunately, it also makes one acutely aware that most people, even those with humane instincts, did not take that stand. This emotionally stirring book is an essential addition to Holocaust collections. Jay Freeman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Books have been written about individuals who risked their own safety to aid Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. Yet this comprehensive examination by noted historian Gilbert (The First World War, etc.), recounted largely through first-person accounts by the Jews they rescued, is an important contribution. These thumbnail sketches of rescuers, their methods and, in some cases, the horrors they endured as a result of their courageous choices haven't previously been gathered in one volume. The result of 25 years of research sparked by witnessing Oskar Schindler's 1974 funeral procession in Jerusalem, Gilbert's country-by-country examination reveals as much about quiet dissent in Nazi-occupied Europe as it does about the human spirit. "For anyone who is honoured today for saving Jewish lives, there were ten or more who did the same," says one rescuer. In Vilna, a German officer, Maj. Karl Plagge, protected Jews from 1939 until 1944, by employing them in his Motor Vehicle Repair Park. In Germany, a young slave laborer, her feet frozen from working outdoors in the snow, was given a pair of shoes by an elderly couple in a remote wooded area; she never learned their names. The number of accounts is overwhelming, and fitting them all in one volume requires that each, to a degree, be given short shrift. But the very fact that there were so many tales of courage is reason to take heed of this heartening aspect of one of history's darkest moments. 32 pages of b&w photos, 20 maps. (Feb. 4) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Celebrated historian Gilbert here investigates those proclaimed the Righteous Among Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Archive in Jerusalem, for helping to save Jews during World War II. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From The Righteous : "What were the motives of those who tried to save Jews from deportation and death?" This question is raised with every account of rescue, as the reader, like the historian, wonders whether they would have behaved in such a courageous manner. First and foremost, the Righteous of this book chose to act; theirs was a deliberate decision to behave in a civilized, humane manner, rather than to do nothing, or to refuse to be involved, or to take the route of barbarism. In the circumstances of a combination of Nazi rule, SS power and Gestapo terror, inaction motivated by fear cannot be belittled. Those who turned against the tide of terror were all the more remarkable. "We did what we had to do"; "Anyone would have done the same"-the words of many rescuers mask the courageousness of the course they chose, knowing it to be full of danger, often the danger of execution of their families as well as themselves. Yet these were not foolhardy, rash or intemperate people; most of them made their choice calmly, deliberately and with full realization of the risks, risks that they faced, and took, for months and even years. Excerpted from The Righteous: The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust by Martin Gilbert All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

List of Mapsp. xiii
Prefacep. xv
Acknowledgementsp. xxiii
1. Rescue in the Eastp. 1
2. Eastern Galiciap. 34
3. Vilnap. 75
4. Lithuaniap. 84
5. Poland: The General-Governmentp. 101
6. Warsawp. 128
7. Western Galiciap. 165
8. Germany and Austriap. 181
9. Germans beyond Germanyp. 198
10. Central Europe and the Balkansp. 230
11. Norway, Finland and Denmarkp. 250
12. Francep. 260
13. Belgium and Luxembourgp. 294
14. Hollandp. 320
15. Italy and the Vaticanp. 356
16. Hungaryp. 381
17. In the Camps and on the Death Marchesp. 406
Afterwordp. 433
Maps of Places Mentioned in the Textp. 445
Bibliographyp. 463
Illustration Creditsp. 479
Indexp. 481