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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Heroic Nuns of the Holocaust

Many nuns risked life to save strangers from the Nazis

By Father Alexander Lucie-Smith

Poland Auschwitz

I have just been looking once more at an interesting book published by Oxford University Press back in 2008, which, I think, needs to be more widely known. It is entitled Hidden Children of the Holocaust, and its author is Suzanne Vromen, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Bard College.

Professor Vromen is herself the child of European Jews, which must have made the writing of the book a very special task for her. The book’s subtitle is “Belgian Nuns and their Daring Rescue of Young Jews from the Nazis”. It is based on oral testimonies of survivors, both children and nuns, as well as those who acted as escorts and go-betweens. It is an important book, not least because several of the people interviewed in the course of research have since died; thus we have the sensation of reading a story that might easily have been lost to us. In addition, this account fills a gap in our knowledge. It is often asserted (not just by Catholics) that the Catholic Church did much to protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe; Professor Vromen’s research tells us who did what and why they did it in one particular corner of the continent. In the arguments about the role of the Church at the time of the Holocaust this book provides us with hard evidence and answers, something which is sadly lacking in much of the discussion.




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