Would you hide a Jew from the Nazis?

This is for the Gentiles hereabouts (me included): Would you hide a Jew from the Nazis?

We all think we would. But the reality of WWII tells us that defying deadly power, especially for the sake of those we’ve been taught to think of as “other,” is an act of rare and admirable courage.

The linked article has an agenda. That agenda is not about helping Jews. That agenda is, in fact, a bait-and-switch. The article tells the tales of brave, principled individuals who saved hunted Jews from death. Then it shames us over the issue of what today’s governments should do about Islamic refugees.

My main reason for linking that article is the stories of individual courage and an upcoming Ken Burns documentary you may want to watch: Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War. Who were the Sharps?

Unto the breach stepped a 33-year-old woman from Massachusetts named Martha Sharp.

With steely nerve, she led one anti-Nazi journalist through police checkpoints in Nazi-occupied Prague to safety by pretending that he was her husband.

Another time, she smuggled prominent Jewish opponents of Naziism, including a leading surgeon and two journalists, by train through Germany, by pretending that they were her household workers.

“If the Gestapo should charge us with assisting the refugees to escape, prison would be a light sentence,” she later wrote in an unpublished memoir. “Torture and death were the usual punishments.”

Sharp was in Europe because the Unitarian Church had asked her and her husband, Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister, if they would assist Jewish refugees. Seventeen others had refused the mission, but the Sharps agreed — and left their two small children behind in Wellesley, Mass.

The documentary about the Sharps comes out this Tuesday.


7 thoughts on “Would you hide a Jew from the Nazis?”

  1. IMHO either you believe in protecting innocence or you do not.

    What is your life worth if it is more important than that of the innocence. I am not advocating that we all give what we have to whoever does not have but when faced with a choice of saving innocence or saving oneself, I hope I have the courage to stand up for innocence in whatever way would be the most productive at that point in time.

    When on a battlefield and there is wounded one of the first things a medic is taught is to prioritize which mean IMHO not to waste time on those that cannot be saved and put your time into those that can first, and that would be one of the hardest decision that I think I could ever have to make.

  2. Claire this looks like a fabulous documentary. I’m hoping to see it. Thank you!

    Comrade X, you said it all. I would HOPE and pray that I would have the courage to do what is best. I remind myself that, for me, that kind of courage and intuition will have to come from G-d. The creativity and inspiration to successfully help sneak people to safety. Stories of how some of rescues were accomplished are amazing. Now those people? THEY left a real legacy!

  3. A compelling broadcast.

    I was particularly struck by their noting that out of twenty-five THOUSAND people honored by Yad Vashem, as “Righteous Among the Nations”, only FIVE are Americans.

    Knowing how hard Yad Vashem has always worked to find and exult such heroism, it makes the number horribly sad.

    Yes, very few Americans were there at the time. Yes, we were nominally “neutral” until Pearl Harbor. But, still…


  4. Well, there is a reason those people are held up as righteous. As a Jew who lost a lot of relatives in Europe, I don’t blame people who did not place themselves or families at risk by hiding people. Those who stepped up and joined a resistance were also righteous.

  5. I believe in G*d and have empathy. However, I would not risk sacrificing My family ‘s lives or safety for others. Self sacrifice is one thing, condemning loved ones another. I am no hero. Sheltering someone until the police arrive to help is ok, but when the police state is the problem it would be an unwinnable situation.

  6. Methinks people should make their own minds up on what to do, and also for what is right and what is wrong (& what they can live with in their souls) however a smarter man than I once said something I agree with;

    “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

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