Barbara Szymanska Makuch
Barbara Szymanska Makuch was not yet twenty when the German army invaded Poland in 1939. Soon after, her father was shot dead for anti-German activities. Even his brutal death didn't stop Barbara from risking her life for others. She and her mother took in a Jewish girl and pretended she was their niece. They helped a Jewish boy and then a doctor. But Barbara's greatest test of courage began when she joined Zegota, a group collecting money for Jews who were in hiding. She was arrested and tortured by the Germans. How did she survive? Read Barbara's story.

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Anne Frank Home

Holocaust Rescuers and Survivors Stories of Amazing Courage

Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. In addition, approximately five million others, including Gypsies, Poles, Slavs, people with physical or mental disabilities, communists, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses were killed because of Nazi genocidal policy.

Below are the stories of seven rescuers and five Jewish survivors. Find out more about a rescuer or survivor by clicking his or her name. Then, write and discuss in class why you think that person is courageous.

   

Write a story of courage


Rescuers 
 Survivors

Rescuer
Bert Bochove
Bert Bochove married his wife, Annie, in 1941. The couple moved to Holland, where they ran a drugstore and lived above the store. During the war, many Jews lived with the Bochoves in an attic hideaway that Bert built. He was brave and ingenious. When gasoline was no longer available, he helped build a wood-burning carburetor for a truck. He used the truck to get food for the people in hiding. Like all rescuers, Bert and Annie put their own lives in danger. Read what happened on the day they were betrayed in Bert's story.

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Rescuer
John Damski
John Damski was born in Germany to Polish parents. His family moved to Poland when he was around five. John grew up speaking excellent German, a skill that saved him many times during the war. It got him out of prison, helped him get jobs, and helped him fool German officials. Throughout the war, John hid many Jews and got them false papers that identified them as non-Jews. Then he fell in love with a young Jewish woman. Their relationship would put them both at risk over and over. Find out how in John's story.

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Rescuer
Rescuer
Ellen Nielsen
Ellen Nielsen not only rescued hundreds of Danish Jews, she herself escaped certain death three times. A widow living in Copenhagen, Denmark, Ellen supported her family by selling fish. Because she knew the fishermen, she was asked to help two Jewish brothers get by boat to safety in Sweden. That's how she got involved with helping and hiding Jews — and how she ended up in a Nazi concentration camp. Read about her ordeal in Ellen's story.

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Rescuer
Mirjam Waterman Pinkhof
Mirjam Waterman Pinkhof was a young Jewish teacher in Holland during the war. She became part of a group helping Jewish children from Germany and Austria escape to safety. Though her own life was constantly at risk, she worked to find homes for these refugee children. Through her efforts, 70 children reached Palestine (Israel today). To avoid capture herself, she slept in a different place every night for two years! Learn more about Mirjam's story.

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Rescuer
Tina Strobos
Tina Strobos had just begun medical school in Amsterdam, Holland, when the Germans invaded in 1940. Immediately, she, her mother, and grandmother began helping and hiding Jews and others targeted by the Nazis. Only once did she and her mother talk about the fact that they could be killed. Yet the danger was very real. Tina was arrested several times, and the Gestapo searched the house that she and her mother shared again and again. What was that like? Find out by reading Tina's story.

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Rescuer
Raoul Wallenberg
Raoul Wallenberg is one of the most famous rescuers of World War II. He was born into a wealthy family in Sweden and was a businessman at the time of the war. Sweden was officially neutral, which means it didn't take sides. Raoul came up with a plan to give Swedish passports to Jews in Hungary. The passes would protect them from the Nazis. He was clever and brave and often outsmarted the Germans. Raoul Wallenberg is credited with saving nearly 100,000 Hungarian Jews. Then, just when the war was almost over, he disappeared. Find out more about Raoul Wallenberg.

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Survivor
Christine Damski
Christine Damski was born Sara Rozen, but she changed her name so that she would have a better chance of survival during the war. She belonged to a very prominent Jewish family in Zamosc, Poland. Sara was studying to be a journalist when the war began. In fact, in September 1939, she was set to leave for a university in Paris, France, when the Germans invaded Poland. That was the beginning of six years of danger and hiding. Learn how she survived in Christine's story.

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Survivor
Herman Feder
Herman Feder was born in Poland but grew up in Germany, where he lived with relatives after his mother died. Herman was in his 30s, married, and had a young son in 1938, when the worst violence against Jews in Germany began. The first time his family was rounded up, everyone escaped. They wouldn't be so lucky again. Of 188 relatives, only Herman survived the war. Find out how in Herman's story.

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Survivor
Joseph Heinrich
Joseph Heinrich grew up in Germany. In 1938, when conditions became very bad for German Jews, his father was arrested. His mother sent fourteen-year-old Joseph and his younger brother and sister to Holland. His sister stayed in the same safe house throughout the war. But Joseph and his brother moved constantly, eventually going to France, then Spain, and then to Palestine. Read about their dangerous journey in Joseph's story.

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Survivor
Yettie Mendels
Yettie Mendels was a Dutch Jew from a large family. In 1942, she married, and the next year she became pregnant. Meanwhile, conditions were getting worse and worse for Jews in Holland. By the time her baby was born, her husband, parents, and several other family members had been sent to concentration camps. Yettie herself barely escaped capture many times. She was separated from her son when he was only months old. Did she see him again? Find out in Yetti's story.

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Survivor
Erika Van Hesteren
Erika Van Hesteren was part of a well-to-do Jewish family in Amsterdam, Holland, when the Germans invaded in 1940. The family lost their home and had to move to the Jewish ghetto in Amsterdam. They were still there when the ghetto was raided and thousands of Dutch Jews were sent to concentration camps. What happened to Erika and her family? Find out by reading Erika's story.

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We Remember Anne Frank | Hanneli Pick-Goslar | Miep Gies | Anne Frank and Her Diary | Stories of Courage | Teacher's Guide