Date of Award
Master of Arts
Masters Thesis-Open Access
When Nazi policies dictated the gradual and continual reduction in the liberties and rights of those deemed undesirable, most did nothing. Most continued to do nothing when these policies were extended to include mass sterilization and extermination. In spite of this, there were a few who acted. They gave of their own meager resources of food, money, and space, to help those who needed it. They risked their very lives as well as the lives of their loved ones to protect and save fellow human beings from the Nazi reign of terror.
Research into rescuers and their motivations have shown primarily one common attribute among them--all rescuers saw rescue behavior as their duty. As such, they saw no alternative but to help in order to preserve their personal integrity and remain true to themselves.
Contrary to what some insist, I will argue that this self-interested aspect of the rescue behavior does not detract from its value or withdraw its altruistic merit, but only adds to and deepens it. This is because the usually conflicting motives of self and others were united, even identical, in the minds of rescuers, a fact which allowed them to act wholeheartedly altruistically--to really love their neighbor as themselves.
Osborn, Lynn M., "Rescue as Imperative for the Preservation of Integrity: A Study of Gentile Rescuers During the Holocaust and Their Motivations" (1995). Masters Theses. 3832.