Heroes of the Holocaust

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The Holocaust is a stain upon humanity’s history that will never be forgotten; horrors of the genocide still echo within the modern era. Despite the doom and despair that is usually aligned with the Holocaust, many brave souls risked their lives to save others. The following are just some of the many who went against the Nazis.

The Diplomat

Photo courtesy of the IRWF

Carl Lutz — a Swiss diplomat — and his wife, Gertrud Lutz-Fankhauser, saved over 62,000 Hungarian Jews. Lutz gained permission to issue protective letters to 8,000 Jews for the emigration to Palestine; instead of giving them to individuals, he gave the letters to 8,000 Jewish families. Lutz set up 76 Swiss safehouses around Budapest, and used his diplomatic skills to convince Hungarian and German officials to tolerate his protection of Hungarian Jews. Throughout his endeavor, his wife, Gertrude Lutz-Fanhauser, played a significant role in looking after people who were hidden in the Swiss embassy.

The Angel of Auschwitz

Photo courtesy of Goodreads

Gisella Perl was a Hungarian Jewish gynecologist who, along with her family, was sent to Auschwitz. Joseph Mengele — a Nazi doctor nicknamed the Angel of Death — assigned Perl to work in the hospital. Perl was directed to inform Mengele of any pregnant women so they would be “sent off to another camp with better nutrition.” Perl took it upon herself to terminate any pregnancies, as pregnant women would be experimented on by Mengele. She saved the lives of hundreds of women by informing them of their fate, performing abortions in secret, and sometimes killing the babies to protect the mother. 

Syndrome K

Photo courtesy of Syndrome K

In the island of the Tiber River, a group of doctors within Fatebenefratelli Hospital “struggled” with an epidemic of Syndrome K. The hideaways were instructed to cough when Nazi soldiers passed through, giving them a facade of infectious tuberculosis or cancer. Syndrome K saved anywhere from dozens to hundreds of lives. 

The Teacher

Photo courtesy of BBC

Johan van Hulst became the deputy principal of the Reformed Teachers’ Training College in Amsterdam, and turned the school into an area of Nazi resistance and shelter for Dutch teachers who did not pledge loyalty to Germany. Across the school was a Jewish deportation center in disguise of a theater. The children from the center were taken to van Hulst’s school, where they would be smuggled to the countryside until the war ended. An estimated 600 Jewish children were saved. 

The Limping Lady

Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian 

Known as “the limping lady” to the Nazis, espionage agent Virginia Hall was responsible for an enormous amount of troop movements leaks, jailbreaks, resistance spies recruitment, and sabotages within France. Hall and her team were credited with capturing 500 Nazis and killing 150. 

China’s Schindler 

Photo courtesy of The Jewish Foundation

Ho Feng-Shan was appointed the Chinese consul general after the annexation of Austria. After Kristallnacht — the Night of Broken Glass — Austrian Jews needed emigration documents to avoid being sent to concentration camps and be released from detention centers. Against his superiors’ wishes, Ho issued hundreds of visas every month, saving tens of thousands of lives. He is nicknamed China’s Schindler, after industrialist, humanitarian, and — ironically — Nazi Oskar Schindler who saved over 1,000 Jews by employing them in his factories.

The Nurse

Photo courtesy of Google Arts & Culture

Irena Sendler was a social worker disguised as an infection-control nurse who, along with her team, smuggled children out of the Warsaw ghetto. Each of the children were given false documentation papers and hidden in orphanages or foster homes. Over 2,500 children were rescued during this operation.

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