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The Berlin Righteous

solidarity stories in Third Reich's Germany

Photo by whatsthatpicture

Photo by whatsthatpicture

Ernst and Helisabeth Joseph are two Jews who were rescued from Nazi persecution thanks to the courage of some German citizens in the aftermath of the setting into force of the racial laws in 1933.
Their stories were revealed by their daughter who wishes to honour the memory of the rescuers.

Elisabeth Joseph, forged documents for a new life

Brought up in a wealthy family in Berlin, in 1937, when she is only 14 yeaes old, Elisabeth Joseph (born Jacoby) is forced to abandon school for a period of forced labour at the Siemens-Halske factory. When the Gestapo seizes the flat where she lives with her parents and brother, first she takes refuge at acquaintances' home, then in bombed houses or in the corners of the Bahnhof-Zoo train station. During one of her many moves she undertakes in the fear of being discovered, Elisabeth meets Eva Cassirer, a school mate who is slightly older than her. Eva invites Elisabeth to her home as she is certain she can rely on the help of her mother Hannah Sotschek. The both host the young girl and let her have new documents. Under the false name of Liselotte Lehmann and leading the "normal" life of a housemaid, Elisabeth would spend more than two years at the Sotschek's.

Ernst Joseph, hidden with his family

Ernst Joseph, born in 1915, with his family owns a small food import-export firm. The setting into force of the antiJewish legislation compels Ernst to sell out the firm and, as Elisabeth, serve a term at Siemens-Halske. Upon suggestion of the business partner Oscar Materne, he turns to Leni Pissarius in the hope to find a shelter where to hide with his parents Leopold and Bertha. Leni and Paul Pissarius will help and hide these people at their home for over two and a half years until Berlin surrendered on 2 May 1945. The Pissariuses were recognized as Righteous among the nations by Yad Vashem.

Recognition of Berlin Righteous in the site of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation

22 April 2011

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whoever saves a life saves the entire world

In Yad Vashem's Memorial, in Jerusalem, the Garden of the Righteous remembers those who tried to rescue the Jews in the Holocaust: those who hidd them, helped them expatriate with forged documents, nourished them or gave them a job; those who, seeing them suffer, helped them somehow instead of remaining indifferent.In Yerevan's Wall of Remembrance the memorial stones remember the rescuers of Armenians during the genocide of 1915, those who tried to stop the massacre, refused to obey orders, sheltered children, reported the extermination that was occurring beneath their hopeless eyes to the world's public opinion.
In 1994 in Rwanda, some Tutsies who were hunted by the interahamwe militias were protected by neighbours, friends - some times strangers, too - belonginf to the Hutu ethnic group, who refused participating in the "man hunt" with machetes that had been planned by other Hutus to exterminate the country's Tutsi minority.
While ethnic cleansing was ravaging Bosnia leading to the murder of thousands innocent victims some people trying to escape the massacre were helped in the same way by neighbours, school mates, friends, or strangers, who were members of other ethnic groups.
Still todate, in many places in the world, there are such rescuers who risk and sometimes lose their lives in the attempt of helping the victims, and become victims themselves. Other times they lose their jobs, wellbeing, social status or they are imprisoned, tortured, cast out. At any rate, even before starting their endeavours, they know they run a serious risk, but they prefer doing so rather than bearing the weigh of remorse for remaining indifferent for the rest of their lives. Everytime by their action they "save the entire world", as stands in the Talmud.

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