Defying the Tide: An Account of Authentic Compassion During the Holocaust

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Ruth Abraham and Maria Nickel would never have met each other if it hadn't been for the Shoah. But when Hitler turned Germany into a cauldron of anti-Semitism, Maria Nickel decided that morality and ethics were more important than even life itself. This story of unbridled compassion made world headlines in May 2000 in Berlin Germany when Ruth, then 87 and recovering from heart bypass surgery, met her friend Maria, 90, for the last time. In 1942 Ruth, eight months pregnant, and on her way to certain death, was stopped by a German woman in a grey coat who offered her food, saying, Take this. It's the Christmas rations for Germans. I can't have Christmas with my family knowing that you are carrying a baby and don't have enough to eat. Their long and arduous journey together reached its climax when Maria and her husband gave their identity papers to Ruth and Walter and with it the precious gift of life. Reha Sokolow, the daughter of Ruth and Walter, tells the story of her parents' escape from death using the voice of both Maria and Ruth so that the reader begins to understand the many levels of fear, trepidation, and love that was an integral part of the lives of both the saviour and the saved.