Welcome to the website of the Institute for the Study of Altruism and Rescue in the Holocaust (ISRAH).
This website includes information on the following:
The Institute for the Study of Rescue and Altruism in the Holocaust (ISRAH), a nonprofit corporation, was founded in 2006 as an educational organization. It was formed for the purpose of conducting research, disseminating information, promoting awareness of, and honoring individuals for the rescue of Jews and other victims of the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. ISRAH is an umbrella organization of the Visas for Life: The Righteous and Honorable Diplomats Project and the Jewish Rescuers Project.
For years, the story of rescue in the Holocaust has been largely underrepresented. Thousands of books have been published on the murderers and their collaborators, yet there are only a handful of books on the righteous men and women who risked everything to help others. ISRAH promotes awareness of these stories. Our principal aim is to show that institutions and individuals could successfully defy the genocidal policies of the Nazis and their allies.
ISRAH’s goal is to recognize these heroic men and women in order to encourage others to emulate the acts of these courageous people in times of conflict.
This website will document the stories of state institutions, rescue and relief organizations, diplomats, church groups, and individuals who were actively involved in rescuing or assisting refugees and other victims during the Holocaust, 1933-1945.
We will also document and honor Jewish rescue organizations and individuals. Jewish rescuers were often at the greatest risk for helping their fellow Jews.
Primary activities of ISRAH include: writing articles, scholarly papers and books; curating and disseminating traveling exhibits related to rescue and altruism in the Holocaust; preparing an educational curriculum, website(s) and documentaries on rescue; organizing public programs; and nominating individuals for the title of Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
ISRAH will establish its own system to recognize and honor individuals for their altruistic behavior during the period of the Holocaust. Its activities to recognize and honor individuals for altruistic behavior include issuing commemorative medals and certificates. This program will be displayed on this website.
ISRAH will document and honor numerous men and women who were active in rescuing Jews and others, but who have not been recognized or honored by Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Yad Vashem’s list of rescuers is not comprehensive, as it relies solely on nominations, primarily by individuals who were rescued. Furthermore, Yad Vashem does not recognize Jewish rescuers. ISRAH will draw on both primary and secondary research on rescue in deciding who is to be documented and honored. These will include the members of prominent rescue organizations. For example, Varian Fray, of the Emergency Rescue Committee, was honored by Yad Vashem in 1994, yet the other 50 members of the Committee have yet to be officially recognized for their activities in Marseille, France, 1940-1943. In addition, ISRAH will recognize both Jewish and non-Jewish rescuers.
As of 2017, Yad Vashem recognizes 26,513 individuals from 51 countries for rescuing Jews in the Shoah. Yet, there were many tens of thousands of other individuals who were active in rescuing Jews who have not been recognized. This site will shine a light on these heroic men and women and their organizations.
ISRAH will promote awareness of rescue and altruism in the Holocaust to European governments whose citizens participated in rescue and relief activities. It will encourage other organizations to establish their own systems to recognize altruistic individuals. In cases where individuals were punished for their altruistic activities during the Holocaust, ISRAH will encourage these institutions and governments to rehabilitate the reputations of these rescuers.
ISRAH works with the families of the rescuers honored in project. It also works with individuals who were rescued during the Holocaust, 1933-1945, and their families and descendants. It coordinates with the governments of the rescuers, particularly in the case of diplomatic and other state-sponsored rescuers, to obtain photographs, documents and other materials relating to the rescue activities. We will share these photographs, documents, oral histories and other materials with institutions, organizations and researchers, so that they may be as widely disseminated as possible.
Visas for Life Project
The Visas for Life Project was founded in 1994 with the goal of studying the role of diplomats in rescuing and aiding Jews and other refugees throughout the world during the period of the Holocaust. Diplomatic rescue took place throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, neutral Europe, and throughout the world. Diplomatic rescuers operated in and represented more than 36 countries. Please click here for a comprehensive list of diplomatic rescuers.
The Project initiated a series of traveling exhibits on diplomatic rescue that were presented at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance, and at the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust. The exhibit was presented in more than 200 venues throughout the world.
Jewish Rescuers Project
ISRAH has also created a database of Jewish rescuers. Many tens of thousands of Jews operated throughout the world to organize efforts to save their fellow Jews from being murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. This database provides a list of Jewish individuals and rescue organizations, along with non-Jewish individuals and organizations who aided them in their efforts. Please click here for the Jewish Rescuers website.
Please check back with us often, as we will be adding a large amount of material on the rescue of Jews throughout Europe.
This site is under construction. In the next few weeks, we will be posting much of the research that we have conducted over the past numerous years. This information will include comprehensive lists of rescuers, rescue by country, rescuers by occupation, fact sheets, historic timelines, a rescue bibliography, and much new research on the topic of rescue in the Holocaust.
Diplomatic rescue took place throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, neutral Europe, and throughout the world. Diplomatic rescuers operated in and represented more than 36 countries. The Diplomatic Rescue page provides information about diplomatic rescue and a comprehensive list of diplomatic rescuers.
Comments and Feedback
Please let us know if you have any comments about the website, or if you have any additions or corrections to our data.
If you are aware of rescue activities of an individual who has not been documented, we would be very much interested in this information.
You can contact us at VisasForLife@cs.com.
Content last updated October 15, 2017