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All Our Brothers and Sisters

Jews Saving Jews during the Holocaust

Edited By Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz and Alan Schneider

The book focuses on the heroism of Jews throughout Europe who risked their lives to save their coreligionists under Nazi rule. The contributors discuss and analyze the actions of Jews who rescued other Jews from the hands of the Nazis. These actions took place, to different degrees, in Germany, in Axis states and all across Nazi-occupied Europe, from the early stages of persecution until the war’s end, in the framework of collaborative efforts and individual initiatives. The Jews who rescued other Jews during the Holocaust came like their non-Jewish counterparts from different backgrounds: men and women, old and young, religious and secular, wealthy and poor, educated and uneducated. The rescue missions took place in ghettos, areas without ghettos, jails, camps, hospitals, children’s homes, schools, monasteries, in hiding. This book focuses on these rescue missions and the people behind them, reminding us of their courage and willingness to act, even when it put their own lives in danger.

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The Palestine Pioneers and the Westerweel Group

Extract

By: Hans Schippers

The Westerweel group was a small Dutch Resistance organisation that was active from July 1942 until the autumn of 1944, with both Jewish and non-Jewish members. The group helped several hundreds of Palestine pioneers to hide in the Netherlands and France; about 70 reached the British mandate area of Palestine via Spain in 1944. The pioneers were mainly young German and Austrian Jews who had fled to the Netherlands after 1933. They were members of the Hechaloets umbrella organisation that was strong mainly in Eastern Europe. The more than 800 pioneers in the Netherlands were trained (hachshara) to be able to establish themselves as farmers in Palestine.

Almost immediately after the occupation began in May 1940, the Germans started to identify and isolate the approximately 140,000 Jews in the Netherlands. In November, all Jewish civil servants were dismissed. Later, Jews were prohibited from visiting cinemas and parks, travelling by public transport and had a J stamped in their identity cards. From May 1942 onwards, Jews had to wear the Star of David on their clothing, so that they were recognisable in public.

Just over a month later, the first train went from Amsterdam to the Westerbork transit camp, with several thousands of mainly foreign Jews. These included roughly 50 Palestine pioneers with among them 22 minors who lived in a pension. They had no family or relations in the Netherlands and were therefore easy prey. They were all deported to...

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