Oskar Schindler240Why do you think that in times of crisis, some people stand by, or actively help the perpetrators, while others get involved and try to make a positive difference? (From Facing History, Facing Ourselves)

Hero status is often achieved by making personal sacrifices, showing extreme selflessness, and great courage. Allison and Goethals (2011, 49) state, ‘These individuals typically don’t set out with the intention of being heroes. In fact the situations they find themselves in are usually unpleasant, requiring a difficult choice that has painful consequences. The choice however, is the correct one from a moral perspective’. In a survey of 75 college students Allison and Goethals noted eight heroic traits,’The Great Eight’:

1.Smart: intelligent, smart, wise
2.Strong: strong, leader,dominating,courageous,gallant
4.Caring:compassionate,empathetic,caring, kind
5.Charismatic: eloquent,charismatic,dedicated,passionate
6.Resilient: determined,persevering, resilient,accomplished,
8.Inspiring: admirable,inspirational

“In those times there was darkness everywhere. In heaven and on earth, all the gates of compassion seemed to have been closed. The killer killed and the Jews died and the outside world adopted an attitude either of complicity or of indifference. Only a few had the courage to care. These few men and women were vulnerable, afraid, helpless – what made them different from their fellow citizens?… Why were there so few?… Let us remember: What hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor but the silence of the bystander…. Let us not forget, after all, there is always a moment when moral choice is made…. And so we must know these good people who helped Jews during the Holocaust. We must learn from them, and in gratitude and hope, we must remember them.” Elie Wiesel

‘In 1963 Yad Vashem embarked upon a worldwide project to pay tribute to the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. This represents a unique and unprecedented attempt by the victims to honor individuals from within the nations of perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders, who stood by the victims’ side and acted in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed in the darkest time of history.’ (Yad Vashem)

Oskar Schindler:

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