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Stealth Altruism: Reflections on a Neglected Aspect of the Holocaust

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Throughout the Holocaust certain Jewish victims tried to care for less fortunate others at the risk of their own lives, as their acts of ‘stealth altruism’ were fiercely forbidden. As of 2015 over forty Holocaust museums around the world had paid little attention to this Help Story, although evidence abounds in survivor memoirs and video interviews. The focus was almost exclusively on the Horror Story. Groundbreaking museums are now exploring commemoration that combines both stories, and makes a fuller narrative possible. Many reforms are available to further this overdue re-storying process, and European Holocaust museums may yet point the way.


Like a puzzle with an infinite number of answers, the Holocaust ‘keeps turning up new stories, different angles, fresh versions of events we thought we knew already’ (Applebaum 2006, 33). Not surprisingly, then, seven decades after its end in 1945, we continue to seek fresh insights into the struggle of European Jews against the unprecedented persecution of the Third Reich.

Certain European Jews defied Nazi prohibitions against helping other Jews. I call their high-risk efforts ‘acts of stealth altruism’ (aka stealth caring, stealth support), and I call those involved ‘Carers’ (aka Righteous Jews). Theirs was a bizarre world in which redemptive help and murderous horror were inextricably intertwined.

Professor Alvin H. Rosenfeld, after identifying the Holocaust as ‘one of the most copiously documented crimes in history’, goes on to explain ‘for all of that it continues to present massive problems in understanding’ (Rosenfeld 2011, 2). What, for example, can we understand of acts of stealth altruism, and what about it should we pass down through the generations? Why? And how?

Museums and the media for the past seventy years have focused attention on what I call the Horror Story, a terrifying account of atrocious things perpetrators did to Jewish victims. Haim Ginott, speaking for many fellow survivors, will never forget having seen ‘what no man should witness: Gas chambers built by learned engineers. Children poisoned by educated physicians. Infants killed by trained nurses. Women and children shot and burned by high school and college graduates’ (Wegner 1998, 167).

Alongside the well-known Horror Story is another one far less familiar, and I call it the Help Story, an inspiring account of what Jewish victims did for one another. We need both stories – Horror and Help – in a revised Holocaust Narrative. Together they provide a more accurate history of Holocaust realities and bolster our appreciation of human potential.

Livia Bitton-Jackson, in her 1997 account of the several years spent in Auschwitz, tells stories ‘of gas chambers, shootings, electrified fences, torture, scorching sun, mental abuse, and constant threat of death’. She also tells ‘stories of faith, hope, triumph, and love. They are stories of perseverance, loyalty, courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and of never giving up’ (Bitton-Jackson 1997, 11). Similarly, Manya Frydman Perel, a survivor of six years of struggle at eight concentration camps, tells of her reliance on stealth altruism: ‘We resisted in every way we could. Our weapons were our bare hands, our minds, our courage, and our faith. I resisted by stealing bread and potatoes to share with my friends. I resisted by risking my life time and time again. The Nazis could not crush our spirit, our faith, or our love for life and humanity’ (Perel 2012, 80).

I heard first-hand of acts of stealth altruism participated in or witnessed when I talked directly with survivors, or listened to Shoah Foundation tapes. I have also found evidence of the Help Story in almost all of the 195 memoirs authored by 178 male and female (94/84) survivors I have studied. Holocaust scholar William Younglove notes that, while such books necessarily probe ‘the depths of deprivation, degradation, desolation, destruction, and death’, they also with fidelity explore the ‘heights of helpfulness, honorableness, honesty, humor, and humanity’. 1

A small number of Holocaust scholars have highlighted the Help Story. 2 Writer Tzvetan Todorov, for example, concluded in 1996 that in the German camps acts of kindness, moral courage, and even sacrifice on behalf of others were far more common than non-participants might expect (Fischel 1996, K-4). Professor Nechema Tec, a survivor/scholar, after interviewing hundreds of fellow survivors over several decades, noted in 2003:

practically all prisoner accounts, oral and written, mention clusters of friends who made life more bearable. I have not come across a single Lager [camp] autobiography that does not mention bonding of some kind as a part of the prisoners’ experiences (Tec 2003, 183, 379).

Unfortunately, I found no comparable attention paid in study visits to fortythree to forty-eight Holocaust museums and education centres worldwide, ten of which were on the sites in Europe of former Nazi camps. 3

Philosophy Professor Yoram Lubling, an Israeli-born son of survivors, contends that the Nazi period of history (1933–45), with its ‘unspeakable violation of personhood and total elimination of life’, has made Holocaust research and memory ‘one of the most burning issues of our time. How we remember, use, document, and teach this period [...] will determine the moral space of our collective future’ (Lubling 2007, 12).

To improve tomorrow’s ‘moral space’ requires ending our neglect of the Help Story. Many precedents exist in Judaism for improving its key stories, e.g. the ancient Passover Narrative (Haggadah) is now available in feminist, gay, ‘green’, meditative and even vegetarian adaptations. Likewise, sponsors of an updated Hanukah Narrative believe their redesign ‘gives [disaffected] Jews a reason to reconnect’ (Simon and Zimmerman 2011, A-1). Similarly, the Purim Narrative, long criticized by some as sexist, exists now in a feminist reformulation popular with members of both genders.

Where the Holocaust Narrative is concerned, arguably the prime faithrelated story of modern times, many improvements have been made in it, e.g. overdue attention now goes to the previously sidelined experience of women throughout the Holocaust. Similarly, where we once thought the Holocaust had been a taboo subject for postwar American Jews, we now understand certain Jewish groups and synagogues made empathic concern a central mission (Diner 2010).

With these and many other examples of change as a beckoning guide, we are in a position to confront what Israeli Professor Yehuda Bauer considers ‘a crucial problem – how to anchor the Holocaust in the historical consciousness of the generations that follow’ (Bauer 1978, 45). Six reforms that may help accomplish this and also promote overdue recognition of the Help Story are discussed below.


1. Help Stories. In 1993 Mordecai Paldiel, then a Yad Vashem specialist regarding ‘Righteous Gentiles’, asked a telling question:

If we see so much evil on TV, in the movies, and in stories, and if we write so much about Mengele and Hitler and the Demjanyuks [notorious guards in Nazi camps] and so on, wouldn’t it be a measure of justice to be fascinated by those who did acts of goodness? (Paldiel 1993, 49).

A valuable way of gaining such warranted attention is to have survivors tell about their ‘acts of goodness’, especially their acts of stealth altruism. By the time of our meeting in 2013, a 92-year-old survivor, Dora Aspan Sorell, had told her story 522 times in hospitals, schools, synagogues, etc. Her 1998 memoir recounts much personal involvement in the Help Story, e.g. when she was a 22-year-old Auschwitz prisoner, Sorell helped drag an exhausted girl out of their barrack and into the courtyard for roll call. She then held the girl up without being noticed, despite knowing this would have got both of them severely punished and likely to be sent to be gassed. 4

As with Dora Sorrell’s example, other survivor speakers and memoir writers should be encouraged to share their Help Story experiences. Guidance is available in the 2007 edition of the ‘Oral History Interview Guidelines’ prepared by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), which includes such prompts as, ‘What were the relationships between people [in the ghetto and/or camp]? Did you have any good friends? Did anyone ever help you? Did you help anyone?’ (Ringelheim 2007). On a special website, the USHMM also offers a videotape example of survivors discussing acts of stealth altruism. 5

Survivors should also be encouraged to tell their story to audiences of volunteers and professional guides at Holocaust museums. These individuals would be better ‘educators’ if able to draw artfully on stories of forbidden care they heard the directly from a Carer. 6 Likewise, museum staff could collect such Help Stories for a special book that could be offered for sale to visitors, with profits conspicuously earmarked for helping impoverished survivors. This book could also be given as a special gift to Bar and Bat Mitzvah youngsters during the ceremony.

2. Help Story Employ. Certain key ‘Shapers of the Memory’ have finally realized that ‘the last thing people want to do is take on a heavy dose of depression’, and these policy-makers are discretely thinning their use of and dimming their focus on the Horror Story (Glazer 2015). Yad Vashem Museum, for example, has, since its renovations in 2005, been telling two stories, Horror and Help.

During a visit in 2005 to the newly enlarged museum, I noticed a small placard that informed visitors, ‘The life of the solitary inmate resembled an arena of savage struggle in which violence and evil ruled. Yet even within this dark reality there were manifestations of humanity and fraternity, especially between inmates who shared the same language origin, or religious or political creed.’ [Italics added.] While there was no related artwork, no display case items, nor any educational video running nearby, the small placard’s novel presence was a welcomed advance in bringing the Help Story forward.

Avner Shalev, the museum’s chairman, noted in 2005 that a new approach offered ‘real stories of people who tried to keep their human dignity and their human values’, people whose ranks undoubtedly included many Carers (Wollaston 2005, 74). Personalized stories of European Jews (murdered victims or survivors) were used to restore individuality to the mass, and attention went in a low-keyed way to examples of forbidden care.

In 2012 Yad Vashem, which largely determines the central theme each year for Israel’s Yom HaShoah [Holocaust Remembrance] Day commemoration, broke new ground with its choice of ‘My Brother’s Keeper: Jewish Solidarity during the Holocaust’. Its promotional material indicated ‘mutual help and a commitment to the other were actually quite common’. High-risk examples included youth movement members who opened communal kitchens and fed the hungry, and former townspeople who shared what little they had in the camps. All such behaviour showed ‘the individual had little chance of survival without the sense of togetherness, and this Jewish unity [...] is what carried people and helped them endure another day’ (Behar 2012).

Four less prominent, but no less dynamic Holocaust museums are also pioneering in bringing the Help Story forward, specifically, the world’s only children’s Holocaust museum (Yad La Yeled) at Beit Lohammei HaGetaot (Ghetto Fighters’ House) in Israel; the Ravensbrück Camp Museum outside of Berlin; the Resistance Museum in Lyon, France; and the Theresienstadt Museum in the Czech Republic. As three of the four are in Europe, one may hope museum directors and curators elsewhere will soon travel to them to adopt what I call the ‘European Advance’. Outstanding in this regard is the Ravensbrück example: it abounds in creative and engaging display material linked to the Help Story. Completely redone in recent years by its staff with whom I consulted beforehand, this camp museum more than any other in Europe shows the way.

3. Commemoration and Education. Since its establishment by Israel on 21 April 1951, Yom HaShoah has been noted for doleful expressions of anguish and grief, as conveyed by formulaic speeches, routinized salutes to aged survivors and ritualistic candle-lighting ceremonies.

Most recently, however, some innovative speakers have taught listeners there are actually two stories, Help and Horror, not just one. For example, in Philadelphia on 11 April 2010, the keynote speaker, Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut) history professor Samuel D. Kassow urged attention be given to forbidden care. He spoke specifically of the outlawed high-risk schools operating in ghettos, and the clandestine high-risk religious services that were conducted in the camps. Professor Kassow closed his challenging talk by contending such altruistic efforts ‘transcended events and inspire us to this day’. 7

Equally welcome was another Yom HaShoah event that occurred on 28 April 2015 in Tel Aviv. The second annual, youth-focused memorial ceremony included the reading of nine selections from survivor memoirs, three of which were Help Story accounts. 8 In my own brief invited talk I suggested that the event’s main focus, the death marches, were also ‘life marches’, in that many Jewish prisoners secretly helped others survive at risk of their own lives.

At the same time another novel Yom HaShoah event was taking place in ten widely scattered Israeli sites. Introduced after three years of planning, thirty attendees at each site engaged in dialogue overseen by a skilled moderator.

The event’s developer, Israeli Professor Michal Govrin, readily admitting her ‘opposition to and revulsion from victimization’, wanted to ‘deconstruct [Holocaust] memory into something that promotes life, [something] through which growth is possible’ (Glazer 2015). Professor Govrin’s format redefined ‘heroism’ to include not just fighters but also ‘those [non-militant Carers] who taught, those who prayed, those who painted portraits of the people around them, those who documented events’ (Glazer 2015). Believing the history of the Holocaust remains ‘unresolved’, she and her colleagues sought to ‘wrestle Yom HaShoah away from the glorification of annihilation, and consider what we can take from it for the future, what meanings it possesses. To break with the fixation of worshiping death’ (Glazer 2015).

In like manner, Israel announced on Yom HaShoah in 2015 that it was revising its mandatory Holocaust curriculum. Beginning with kindergarten, it will now downplay ‘scary’ [Horror Story] material, such as archival photos, so as not to overwhelm or traumatize youngsters. By middle school (typically aged eleven to thirteen) it will explicitly cultivate the art of empathy [Help Story material], and in the eleventh grade (typically aged sixteen to seventeen) the new curricula will explore ways European Jews dared to care for one another, despite Third Reich opposition (Grave-Lazi 2014, 1). Emulation by teachers elsewhere of this Israeli educational innovation cannot come soon enough. 9

Attention grows to a relatively new social science, Positive Psychology, supporters of which boast it helps ‘give altruism back its good name’ (Piliavin 2009, 211). It includes the study of altruism, compassion, creativity, empathy, integrity and resilience, all of which are integral features of the Help Story. As pupils should ‘be able to enter the dark cavern [of Holocaust studies] without feeling there is no exit’, this curriculum has much to offer (Fallace 2008, 3).

4. Museum Message. A perturbed writer asks: ‘What if, walking through the haunted halls of the Holocaust Museum, looking at evidence of the destruction of European Jewry, visitors do not emerge with a greater belief that all men are created equal but with a belief that man is by nature evil?’ (Rosenfeld 2011, 23). In like fashion if museum visitors, especially impressionable youngsters, confront only pictures of unrelieved torment and victimization might they emerge with an unbalanced and unduly dark view of the European Jewish experience?

Writer Susan Sontag was twelve years old when she first saw such horrific images. Over forty years later she distressingly asked, ‘what good was served by seeing them?’ Sontag understood as a child ‘there was nothing she could do to change the circumstances or relieve the suffering’. Nevertheless, when she looked, ‘something broke. Some limit had been reached, and not only that of horror. I felt irrevocably grieved, wounded, but a part of my feelings started to tighten; something went dead, something is still crying’ (Sontag 1989, 19–20). In 2004 Sontag wrote: ‘Harrowing photographs [...] are not much help in the task to understand. Narratives can help us understand. Photographs do something else: they haunt us’ (Levinson 2011, 3).

Since there are well over two million Holocaust photos in the archives of over twenty nations, the curators of museums should have no problem finding high-quality Help Story substitutes for many of the iconic Horror Story photos. 10 As Rachel Korazim, an Israeli Holocaust educator, has pointed out, ‘we have managed to place images like barbed wire and crematoria as central Jewish images. This is not Jewish history, this is Nazi history.’ 11

5. Cultural Message. Performances could be held in museum auditoriums of cultural material with Help Story content. The Defiant Requiem Foundation, for example, has $20,000 grants to support bringing to college campuses events such as a live performance of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin, and/ or the screening of the documentary film Defiant Requiem, both of which ably present aspects of the Help Story. 12

Student and/or community theatre groups could draw on the catalogue of over 600 Holocaust-related plays available from the National Jewish Theater Foundation, many of which can be expected to make aspects of the Help Story more understandable through uniquely theatrical insights. Especially promising is the coordinated reading of Holocaust-related plays conducted annually by the Holocaust Theater International Initiative worldwide in hundreds of communities a day or two before Yom HaShaoh. Such theatre can illuminate forbidden care sharing in an invaluable way. 13

Finally, campus and community film festivals could highlight Help Story scenes in such films as Bent, Fateless, God on Trial, Jakob the Liar, My Mother’s Story, Schindler’s List, Son of Saul, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The Counterfeiters and The Shop on Main Street, among many others. 14 Other links to the Help Story are available in documentaries, novels, poetry and short stories, for example, the Holocaust-related poetry of Paul Celan, the prose of Elie Wiesel or Primo Levi ‘renounces beauty and cleverness in the name of more sustaining values like humility and truth’. 15 Cultural allies, in short, exist with which to try to counterbalance seven decades of being Horror-story focused.

6. Interactive 3D Hologram ‘Survivor’. Easily the most daring and farreaching of reforms is a project known as New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT), an ongoing effort of the Shoah Foundation Institute (SFI) and its Silicon Valley partners. They are developing permanent 3D simulations of different types of Holocaust survivors. This could not be timelier since in just over a decade the youngest survivor will be eighty-two, and death annually takes a high percent of the world’s remaining half a million elderly survivors (average age, seventy-nine). 16

In March 2015, the Shoah Foundation began public demonstrations at Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie of a hologram of Pinchas Gutter, an 83-year-old Jewish survivor of several different camps from aged eight to thirteen, and a death march. 17 Months earlier over the course of thirty intensive hours of interviews, Gutter had answered over 2,000 wide-ranging questions thought highly likely to come from hologram onlookers, questions that will trigger relevant spoken answers from his 3D representation.

‘Pinchas’ is now a fifteen-minute long product similar to the iPhone’s personal assistant Siri and the Android platform’s Google Now. 18 Thanks to cuttingedge computer software a full-size hyper-photorealistic image of Pinchas Gutter is complete with human gestures and expressions. It can even understand and answer a wide range of spoken questions when put orally to him by dazzled human beings, including questions especially related to the Holocaust.

A second NDT product near completion draws on a survivor, Anita Lasker- Wallfisch, who, as a prisoner at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, was a member there of one of the camp orchestras. A Death March took her to the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp from which she was liberated. In 2015 eleven other survivors were in the process of being ‘transformed’ into a 3D hologram. 19

Although very expensive to develop, this brow-arching NDT product may yet enable its developers to become, in essence, the most consequential ‘Shapers of the Memory’ of modern times. If widely adopted in Holocaust museums and education centres worldwide, as would seem likely, our relationship to the Narrative – as artfully recounted by survivor doppelgangers – will differ in as yet unknowable, though undoubtedly significant ways. (Access to a demo was available in 2016 at watch?v=AnF630tCiEk)

Sceptics worry that turning survivors into an illusion makes them more artificial than lifelike, and this could undermine the impact of their stories. They dismiss NDT holograms as a tasteless gimmick, at best an artificial entertainment device and not a serious medium for high-quality educational use, and better still ‘digital reincarnation’. Enthusiasts, however, insist the experience of interacting with a warm and engaging ‘Pinchas’ is incredibly close to the real thing. They maintain his rich memories and emotional responses effectively, blurring the line between illusion and reality. Enthusiasts are confident a memorable educational and ethical engagement is possible (Lokting 2015, 24–25).

It is to be hoped the Help Story will be included in the software (naturallanguage technology), that is, in the spoken reminiscences and responses of a 3D ‘survivor’. The Shoah Foundation Institute could invite relevant Holocaust scholars and concerned survivors to review hologram ‘scripts’ before final installation. 20 This sort of good-faith ‘due diligence’ can assure that the stories told by ‘Pinchas’ counterparts will have Help/Horror integrity. For in the last analysis, content trumps its mode of delivery.

7. Opposition to Change. Some opponents of change fear that bringing attention to the Help Story will result in Holocaust deniers saying this ‘proves’ the Holocaust was not all that bad. We would make a costly mistake to let Deniers set the agenda. Their twisted version of the past – text without evidence, details without support, and endless trauma – merits no deference. 21

Other opponents of change value the prominence of the Horror Story for its ability to elicit sympathy for survivors and support for Israel. Some, however, privately understand the Horror Story also brings out fear-driven reactions to events, rather than Judaism’s highest ideals. It promotes an atmosphere of menace and a loss of perspective.

Alternatively, we can leverage two stories – Horror and Help, as together they can earn time-honored sympathy and support while also earning overdue admiration for forbidden care sharing, for noble high-risk stealth altruism: ‘We will remember, but will be hale. Scarred, but whole, balanced’ (Burg 2008, 233).

Finally, some status quo supporters cannot find ‘the resourceful human spirit in the face of the Holocaust disaster’ (Langer 1991, xi). To be sure, calling attention to the Help Story must not be allowed to mitigate rage against unforgivable savage acts. 22 At the same time, however, attention is owed the finding that:

most prisoners simply found themselves helping each other, as if by instinct, as if in answer to a need [...] Smallest favors saved lives time and again [...] In extremity, behavior of this kind [stealth altruism] emerges without plan or instruction, simply as the means to life [...] Prisoners in the concentration camps helped each other. That in itself is the significant fact (Des Pres 1976, 132–35, 147).


Taken together the reforms make possible a redemptive Holocaust memory, one that emphasizes altruism, rather than atrocities; care, rather than cruelty; and valour, rather than victimization. It is time to repurpose Holocaust memorialization and achieve a different, a more Jewish way to remember the assault on European Jewry. For memorialization is ‘a sacred act that elicits a double mandate – to expose the depth of evil and to raise goodness from the dust of amnesia’ (italics added; Schulweis 1994, 157).

What is at issue here has been most eloquently put by filmmaker Pierre Sauvage, himself a ‘hidden child’ survivor:

If we remember solely the horror of the Holocaust, we will pass on no perspective from which meaningfully to confront and learn from that horror. If the hard and fast evidence of the possibility of good on Earth is allowed to slip through our fingers and turn to dust, then future generations will have only dust to build on (Garber 1988, 118).



Arthur B. Shostak

Arthur Shostak is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He earned his BS Degree in 1958 from Cornell University, and his PhD in Sociology in 1961 from Princeton University. He taught at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from 1961 to 1967, when he joined the faculty of Drexel University in 2003. He has written, edited or coedited 34 books and over 160 articles. A member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, he has related published articles at




1 Used with permission given in a private e-mail correspondence with William Younglove, 30 May 2012. Bill used these words in his PowerPoint presentations following his USHMM Mandel Fellowship training year (1999–2000).

2 I draw with appreciation on non-survivor academics like Professors Yehuda Bauer, Michael Berenbaum, Ronald J. Berger, Ruth Bondy, Harry James Cargas, Inga Clendinnen, Terrance Des Pres, Henry Greenspan, Marcia Landy, Lawrence L. Langer, Robert Jay Lifton, Jack Nusan Porter, Joan Ringelheim, Alvin H. Rosenfeld, John K. Roth, Joseph Rudavsky, Tzvetan Todorov and Lenore J. Weitzman, among others. Scholar/survivor ranks include Shamai Davidson, Meier Dworzecki, Yisrael Gutman, Sara Nomberg-Przytyk and Anna Pawelczynska. Especially well-known survivor authors include Jean Amery, Elie A. Cohen, Tadeusz Debski, Eugen Kogon, Primo Levi, Paul Martin Neurath, David Rousset and Nachema Tec, among many others.

3 My wife Lynn Seng and I made study visits to ten far-flung Concentration Camp Museums: Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, Płaszów, Ravensbrück, Sachenhousen, Theresienstadt, Westerbork and the newest Concentration Camp Museum in Europe, the Jasonevac Camp Museum outside Zagreb. (Staff were interviewed at Ravensbrück, Saschenhausen and Jasonevac.) I have also been to Yad Vashem many times, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in DC, The Memorial de la Shoah in Paris; The Holocaust and Intolerance Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Brooklyn, New York; Farmington Hills, Michigan; Manhattan, New York; Skokie, Illinois; St Petersburg, Florida; Israel’s Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and also the Children’s Holocaust Museum, both in Kibbutz Beit Lohamei Haghetaot; and Museums in Estonia and the Netherlands; three Holocaust galleries in major museums in Kyoto (Kyoto Museum for World Peace), Ritsumeikan University – opened in 1992, the first peace museum in the world to be established by a university – and Osaka, Japan. We have also visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the third most visited museum in Europe.

4 Dora Sorrell always refused to take payment for her talks, as she did ‘not want to make money off a tragedy’. She also turned over to a charity the $10,000 in restitution funds given to her by the German government. Dora Aspan Sorell, Tell the Children: Letters to Miriam, 1998, 94. See also Meredith May, ‘Holocaust Survivor Speaks Up’, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 April 2014. E-1.


6 During a visit to a Midwest Holocaust Museum, I watched with dismay while a volunteer proved unable to draw fascinated school-age youngsters away from a model of a camp Gas Chamber to see pre-war photos of the lives of Jewish victims of that same murderous facility in an adjacent gallery. When I later mentioned this setback to a high-level staff member, I was told with rue that the training of volunteers was a never-ending challenge.

7 I was present on 11 April 2010, at a downtown annual Philadelphia ceremony honouring Yom HaShaoh. Some 500 people were in attendance, including perhaps 50 survivors. I attended almost every year from about 1961 to 2003 when I relocated in California.

8 Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, and a Birthright Guide on the Poland Trip. See (accessed 5 November 2016). Dr Heideman explained that including Help Story material was a result of her ongoing study of the European Jewish experience and many talks she has had with survivors living in Israel.

9 Counterparts of this Israeli reform may soon be underway in America. In June 2014, for the first time in the last 20 years, the state of Pennsylvania joined five others in requiring Holocaust Studies, this time as part of the study of Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations. Sponsors of the Pennsylvania development to whom I have sent material about stealth altruism assure me attention will go to it and other aspects of the Help Story.

10 See in this connection, Marianne Hirsch, ‘Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory’, Yale Journey of Criticism, vol. 14, no. 1 (2001), 8; Elie Wiesel, ‘For the Dead and the Living’, in Bearing Witness: Stories of the Holocaust, ed. Hazel Rochman and Darlene Z. Campbell (New York: Orchard Books, 1995), 8. Constrained by vexing cross-pressures (the need to satisfy conflicting constituencies, attract heterogeneous crowds, earn return visits, offer competitive staff salaries, etc.), Holocaust museums operate at risk of freezing the narrative and thereby sidelining higher goals.

11 As cited in Rachel Silverman, ‘Steadfast Message to Educators: Best to Pinpoint Shoah’s “Key Issues”’, Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, 30 November 2006, 8.

12 James R. Oestreich, ‘A Holocaust Story in the Music of Verdi’, New York Times, 8 March 2015, AR-16. On 8 November 2014, the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center sponsored the first-ever American chorale and orchestra presentation of Verdi’s Requiem: Resistance and Redemption – A Story of the Holocaust. Advance publicity noted that original performances in the Thereseinstadt Transfer Camp were credited by camp survivors for giving them the hope and strength to struggle on. See in this connection, www.

13 See (accessed 5 November 2016). See also such plays as Etty, a one-woman production based on the Westerbork Camp diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, murdered aged 29 in Auschwitz/Birkenau; and the Gurs Cycle (a multimedia performance) that marks the transport of over 7,500 Jews from Germany to the Gurs Transit Camp in France. Apropos the Gurs Cycle, see http:// and-kinetic-sculpture/ (accessed 7 December 2016).

14 Helpful in this regard is Rabbi Dr Bernhard H. Rosenberg, The Holocaust As Seen Through Film: A Teacher’s Guide to Movies, Documentaries, and Short Films that Will Impact Your Students, and Spark Dynamic Classroom Discussion (NJ: Beth el-Press, 2014).

15 Adam Kirsh, ‘The Age of Bad Holocaust Novels’, Tablet, 7 May 2015. Accessed 5 November 2016: novels. As regards art and artists the content of whose work stirs controversy regarding the Holocaust, see Dr Yvette Alt Miller, ‘Mocking the Holocaust’, 14 February 2015. Accessed 5 November 2016:

16 It is estimated that 6 to 10 per cent of the world’s 500,000 or so survivors (about 120,000 of whom reside in the USA) pass away annually, and the last may pass away as soon as 2025. The estimate is from the San Francisco Tauber Library. Cited in Leslie Katz, ‘Tech Culture: Holograms of Holocaust Survivors Let Crucial Stories Live On’, 11 February 2013. Accessed 5 November 2016: let-crucial-stories-live-on/

17 Stephen Smith, ‘Blog: Through Testimony’, 28 March 2014. Accessed 10 November 2016:

18 Devin Coldewey, ‘Holograms add new dimension in Holocaust Survivor’s Story’, TODAY, 12 May 2015. Accessed 5 November 2016: yet/holograms-add-new-dimension-holocaust-survivors-story-t20511

19 Ibid.

20 Candidates include the likes of Professor Henry Greenspan, survivor Magda Herzberger, Israeli activist Haim Roet and Professor Nechama Tec.

21 The spring 2012 issue of Prism: an Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators, boldly focused on both Help as well as Horror Stories. Prism editors noted ‘the works herein do not challenge the primary significance of the grim fact of the murder of six million Jews; they do not imply that all Jews resisted, or that defence and defiance were the primary responses of the majority of Jews in the Holocaust, no matter where they were; they are not presented as if the “triumphant human spirit” can mitigate the murderous actions of the Nazis; and they do not serve as the “happy ending” to the Holocaust’. Karen Shawn and Jeffrey Glanz, ‘Introduction’, Prism (Spring, 2012), 3.

22 ‘We cannot let the camps become storehouses for moral examples, because so much of what happened there makes morality collapse’ states David Mikas in ‘Why We Keep Reading about the Shoah’, 16 April 2015. Accessed 5 November 2016: http://www.tabletmag. com/jewish-arts-and-culture/books/190260/reading-about-the-shoah

List of References

Applebaum, Anne (2006) ‘Five Germanys I Have Known’, Washington Post National Weekly Edition, 9–15 October.

Bauer, Yehuda (1978) The Holocaust in Historical Perspective. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.

Behar, Eitan (2012) ‘Yom HaShoah – Letter from the International Committee’, 19 April. Accessed 27 October 2016: See also Anon, ‘Jewish Rescuers’, Archives: December 2015. World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants.

Bitton-Jackson, Livia (1997) I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Burg, Avraham (2008) The Holocaust is Over: We Must Arise from the Ashes. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Butnick, Stephanie (2014) ‘Israel to Teach about Holocaust in Kindergarden’, Tablet, 24 April. Accessed 27 October 2016: about-holocaust-in-kindergarden

Des Pres, Terrence (1976) The Survivor: An Anatomy of Life in the Death Camps. New York: Oxford University Press.

Diner, Hasia R. (2010) We Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945–1962. New York: New York University, 2010.

Fallace, Thomas D. (2008) The Emergence of Holocaust Education in American Schools. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fischel, Jack (1996) ‘Challenging a View that the Overriding Impetus of Camp Inmates was Survival’, Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 February. [Book review: Facing the Extreme: Moral Life in the Concentration Camps, by Tzvetan Todorov.]

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