Bystanders In The Holocaust

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Choices play a critical role not only in people’s daily lives, but in shaping history as well. The stronger those choices are, the greater impact they have on society. During the Holocaust, when the Germans considered themselves racially superior to the Jews and caused millions of innocent deaths, ordinary European citizens and perpetrators shaped history through their actions and inaction. While some stayed quiet, many brave individuals, called upstanders, decided to rescue Jews and other victims of persecution, based on their past experiences and from the goodness of their heart. These upstanders chose to rescue and assist a race marked for death, while knowing full well the harsh penalties for doing so. In any case, the perpetrators, bystanders,…show more content…
The citizens in “The Hangman” would have been more triumphant if the witnesses had stepped up and supported the solitary protester. When the protester shames the Hangman and calls him a murderer, the other townsmen “[gives] him way, and no one spoke/ Out of fear of his Hangman’s cloak (Ogden 51-52). Despite his bold actions, no bystander is brave enough to stand with him. Likewise, during the Holocaust, members who stood up, but did not have enough support from their fellow bystanders, also failed. The upstanders, much like the protestor in the Hangman, were all aware of the possible danger that they could have been in. Nonetheless, they put their lives at jeopardy so that they could fight for what was right, caring for the lives of their townsfolk before their own. If the witnesses in “The Hangman” had given aid to the protester, they would not have suffered their fate, and the Hangman would not have been able to execute the whole town. Similarly, if bystanders had supported the upstanders in the Holocaust, not as many individuals would have had to endure the atrocious events that were forged - the starvation, the suffering, and worst of all, the deaths. The idea that upstanders would have been successful if bystanders had helped is also presented in a short film based on a true story where a French woman, along with the help of other people, was able to save…show more content…
A common argument in favor of bystanders’ inaction is that they would have been in greater danger and put more lives in jeopardy if they became rescuers. However, this is not a valid claim. Clearly, there is striking evidence that proves if a group strongly opposes legislation or perpetrators, then it would be harder to control the protesting group. In the reading, “From Bystanders to Resisters,” people who were originally bystanders created a strong group that opposed the Nazis. After the ordinary Germans citizens combined in a joint effort to “[consider] ways of fighting the Nazis and building a new Germany after the war,” they “placed a briefcase containing explosives under a massive table around which Hitler and his staff were scheduled to meet later that day” (“From Bystanders to Resisters” 374). Although they were unsuccessful in assassinating Hitler and his accomplices, because the table blunted the explosion, they came closer to success than any upstander who stood by himself. Unlike the lonely upstanders during the Holocaust, these members had one another’s help in order to plan a method of rebellion. Despite the plan having failed, it was only because they could not foresee the inadequate position of
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