Stories of Altruism

February 11, 2014 | Laura Hayes '16, Contributing Writer

Eva Fogelman  has collected Holocaust stories for more than 60 years.
Eva Fogelman  has collected Holocaust stories for more than 60 years.
Eva Fogelman  has collected Holocaust stories for more than 60 years.

Would you risk your life to save someone you barely knew?

In a Wednesday CLP titled “Altruistic Behavior during the Holocaust,” Dr. Eva Fogelman, Ph.D invited students, faculty, and community members to reflect on the selfless behavior of the “rescuers” of Jews during the Holocaust through their personal stories. The lecture was sponsored by the Office of the Chaplain and Greenville’s Year of Altruism.

Dr. Fogelman defined “rescuer” from the perspective of the World War II Jews as non-Jews who risked their lives to save those who were being persecuted by the Nazis. According to Fogelman, these rescuers did not change the course of history but showed that there are always people willing to stand up for what they believe. These people come from different backgrounds but share the belief that all humans have intrinsic value.

“If we promote tolerance in society, we can increase the probability of having more caring citizens” Folgelman said, also emphasizing the positive ripple effect that will occur.

Dr. Fogelman, an accomplished social psychologist, psychotherapist, filmmaker and author, was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after World War II and developed an interest in the motivation of rescuers during the war and their “internal struggle to do the right thing.”

She has since interviewed and met more than 300 rescuers including Miep Gies, Anne Frank’s rescuer and written numerous essays and books one of which, Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Fogelman captured the attention of the 100 member audience of Daniel Chapel with compelling stories of sick German children who only took half their medicine so that the other half could be given to a sick Jewish child their family was hiding or a woman who was shot bringing food to a Jewish friend.