Mass evacuations that saved a huge number of people from genocide and/or mass murder

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,730
SoCal
Which cases were there where a mass evacuation (regardless of whether or not it was organized from above or by ordinary people themselves) saved a huge number of people from genocide and/or mass murder? The obvious case that comes to mind here is the successful evacuation of between 1.0 and 1.5 million Soviet Jews to the interior of the Soviet Union in 1941-1942 in order to escape the Nazis. Had these Jews not been evacuated, they would have been murdered in the Holocaust just like virtually all of the Soviet Jews who were not evacuated. Yitzhak Arad's book The Holocaust in the Soviet Union and the YIVO Encyclopedia discuss this evacuation in further detail. To my knowledge, the Soviet Union did not have a policy of specifically evacuating Jews but rather evacuated a lot of Soviet citizens regardless of their ethnicity; however, as I said, this evacuation did result between 1.0 and 1.5 million Soviet Jews being successfully evacuated to the interior of the Soviet Union and thus surviving the Holocaust (though almost 150,000 Soviet Jews did die during their service in the Red Army--often in military combat).

I also know of Denmark's successful evacuation of around 95% of its total Jewish population to Sweden in 1943, which helped to ensure their survival during the Holocaust. However, that involved much smaller numbers of Jews (Denmark only had several thousand Jews in total) and thus was not as impressive as the evacuation of Soviet Jews in 1941-1942.

Anyway, which other examples have there been of a mass evacuation that saved a huge number of people from genocide and/or mass murder? This Wikipedia article discusses mass evacuations, but generally not in the context of avoiding genocide and mass murder:

List of mass evacuations - Wikipedia

Any thoughts on this?
 
Nov 2018
365
Denmark
Of course, it is impressive when hundreds of thousands or millions of people are evacuated, often in difficult conditions.
However, I think it's just as impressive when ordinary people decide to save another human being, solely because their conscience tells them that it's the right thing to do.
For example, the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who was posted to the Japanese consulate in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas in the years 1939 to 1940 and succeeded in saving the lives of approximately 6,000 Jewish refugees by issuing false transit visas to Japan and away from the Nazi extermination camps.
Sugihara and his wife sat at night, producing entry permits for Jews against the Japanese government's guidelines.
Even as he left Lithuania by train, he sat and wrote transit visas and handed them out the window.

Or the story of the Dane Bernhard Sindberg and the German Karl Günther who were the only guards left on Smidth's Jingnan-cement factory on the outskirts of Nanking in 1937.
To keep the invading Japanese army away from the factory, they flagged with Dannebrog and the German flag.
Soon, refugees flocked; children, women, wounded and old to the factory area and the nearby Quixa Temple. They came in thousands. Dannebrog and - ironically - the Nazi flag became a symbol of security and protection for the Chinese.
At the Quixa Temple, the Japanese murdered and raped, but at the factory site they stayed away, the two guards managed to provide food and medicine for the Chinese refugees, and gradually the killings stopped.
The factory's Danish owners were not satisfied that their guard did not remain neutral and, following pressure from the Japanese, he was fired and sent out of the country, the Chinese estimate that he and his German colleague succeeded in rescuing 6,000 Chinese.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,730
SoCal
Of course, it is impressive when hundreds of thousands or millions of people are evacuated, often in difficult conditions.
However, I think it's just as impressive when ordinary people decide to save another human being, solely because their conscience tells them that it's the right thing to do.
For example, the Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who was posted to the Japanese consulate in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas in the years 1939 to 1940 and succeeded in saving the lives of approximately 6,000 Jewish refugees by issuing false transit visas to Japan and away from the Nazi extermination camps.
Sugihara and his wife sat at night, producing entry permits for Jews against the Japanese government's guidelines.
Even as he left Lithuania by train, he sat and wrote transit visas and handed them out the window.

Or the story of the Dane Bernhard Sindberg and the German Karl Günther who were the only guards left on Smidth's Jingnan-cement factory on the outskirts of Nanking in 1937.
To keep the invading Japanese army away from the factory, they flagged with Dannebrog and the German flag.
Soon, refugees flocked; children, women, wounded and old to the factory area and the nearby Quixa Temple. They came in thousands. Dannebrog and - ironically - the Nazi flag became a symbol of security and protection for the Chinese.
At the Quixa Temple, the Japanese murdered and raped, but at the factory site they stayed away, the two guards managed to provide food and medicine for the Chinese refugees, and gradually the killings stopped.
The factory's Danish owners were not satisfied that their guard did not remain neutral and, following pressure from the Japanese, he was fired and sent out of the country, the Chinese estimate that he and his German colleague succeeded in rescuing 6,000 Chinese.
Those are certainly extremely touching stories. :) They remind me a bit of Oscar Schindler bankrupting himself in order to save around 1,200 Jews from the Nazi death camps; he ruined his own life in order to save their lives, which is certainly extremely touching and uplifting. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Runa
Nov 2018
365
Denmark
Those are certainly extremely touching stories. :) They remind me a bit of Oscar Schindler bankrupting himself in order to save around 1,200 Jews from the Nazi death camps; he ruined his own life in order to save their lives, which is certainly extremely touching and uplifting. :)
Maybe it's naive, but when you read such stories, they restore your faith in the good in humans.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Druid and Futurist

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,730
SoCal
Maybe it's naive, but when you read such stories, they restore your faith in the good in humans.
Yeah, they certainly do. Ditto for Georg Elser's attempt to kill Hitler in late 1939; it ultimately cost him his life, but he tried to do a very good thing--and to do it early enough to avoid a lot of damage (unlike the July 20th Plotters, who waited way too long). :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Runa

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,730
SoCal
For what it's worth, I certainly think that a small-scale rescue attempt is certainly better than nothing (especially if this rescue attempt does not put one's own life as risk; if it does, one is even braver); however, if a large-scale rescue attempt is possible and in fact plausible, then it should certainly be attempted, IMHO.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Runa
Jun 2016
1,786
Russia
I want to add that evacuation of Soviet citizens during Great Patriotic war 1941-1945 saved from Nazi genocide not only Jews. Nazi genocided not only Jews, but not less the other nations. Each forth Belarussian was killed as well. There were millions of Soviet citizens killed by Nazi.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Futurist

MG1962a

Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
2,161
Kansas
Anyway, which other examples have there been of a mass evacuation that saved a huge number of people from genocide and/or mass murder? This Wikipedia article discusses mass evacuations, but generally not in the context of avoiding genocide and mass murder:

List of mass evacuations - Wikipedia

Any thoughts on this?
Yeah the Vatican is reported to have saved aprox 800,000 Jews in Europe during WW2. This has never been confirmed by the Church, but is a figure stated by the State of Israel.

There have been attempts over the years to have Pope Pius awarded 'Righteous Among the Nations' standing
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,730
SoCal
Yeah the Vatican is reported to have saved aprox 800,000 Jews in Europe during WW2. This has never been confirmed by the Church, but is a figure stated by the State of Israel.

There have been attempts over the years to have Pope Pius awarded 'Righteous Among the Nations' standing
Attempts that have so far been unsuccessful. Also, the 800,000 figure appears to be way too inflated to me and in any case I don't think that Pius could be credit for all Catholic rescue efforts of Jews during World War II.

Pius's actions during WWII and the Holocaust have also been aggressively criticized:

Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust - Wikipedia

The argument is that he viewed the preservation of his Concordat with Nazi Germany as being more important than saving lives during the Holocaust. I'll let you decide on how much merit you think this argument actually has.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,730
SoCal
I want to add that evacuation of Soviet citizens during Great Patriotic war 1941-1945 saved from Nazi genocide not only Jews. Nazi genocided not only Jews, but not less the other nations. Each forth Belarussian was killed as well. There were millions of Soviet citizens killed by Nazi.
Did the Nazis have a systematic policy of murdering Belarusians, though? Or did Belarusians suffer excessively due to Nazi-induced famines and perhaps due to Nazi reprisals for Soviet partisan attacks as well but without an actual Nazi policy to murder Belarusians en masse?