Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2014: In Love and War

Righteous Among the Nations: doctors and medical students

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 18 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7657
  1. Bruno Halioua, medical doctor1,
  2. Alexandre Ichou, medical doctor2,
  3. Bethsabée Halioua, student3,
  4. Robert Haiat, medical doctor4,
  5. Richard Prasquier, medical doctor5
  1. 1Université Paris Sud-Department of Research in Ethics, Saint-Louis Hospital, Paris 75010, France
  2. 2Department of General Medicine, Hopital Avicenne, Bobigny, France
  3. 3Prepa Commercia, Paris, France
  4. 4Association des Médecins Israélites de France, Saint Germain en Laye, France
  5. 5Keren Hayessod, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to: B Halioua haliouab{at}
  • Accepted 10 November 2014

Halioua and colleagues hold up the actions of a group they believe show medicine at its best

The Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem defines someone who is a “righteous among the nations” as any gentile who saved the life of a Jew during the Holocaust or aided a Jew who was helpless and facing death or deportation without exacting monetary compensation or other rewards. Such people are honoured with a medal bearing the inscription: “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world” (Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin).1

Studies of medicine from the Holocaust era have mostly focused on Nazi experiments in concentration camps and processes for exterminating Jews. None have been carried out on those doctors and medical students who risked their lives to aid and assist Jews during the second world war and were granted the status of righteous among the nations.

From the Encyclopaedia of the Righteous Among the Nations2 and the Yad Vashem website (, we identified doctors and medical students who had been granted the status of righteous among the nations. We evaluated their files to determine the circumstances of the rescue; the place, date, names, and numbers of Jews rescued; and the fate of the medic by the end of the second world war.

As of 1 January 2013, 24 811 people from 44 countries have been granted the title of righteous among the nations (table). Among these were 245 doctors and 31 medical students, representing 1% …

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