The dynamics of helping behaviour for Jewish fugitives during the Second World War: The importance of brokerage. The Segal Family’s Case.

29 March, 2016
Marten Düring


Erna Segal’s rich report on the family’s survival in the underground provides deep insight into the agency of Jewish fugitives in hiding. She was very careful to select potential helpers and created multifaceted relationships with them. Most of these relationships were also based on monetary rewards but some of them were based on false premises. In order to extend trust between fugitives and helpers, personal recommendations or contact brokerages came into play. Trust brokers used their ties with fugitives and potential helpers to create new trusted ties. From the perspective of fugitives, each new helper represented a pool of other helpers whom they could contact with relative safety by means of such brokered contacts. Individual contact brokerages linked up and became chains which provided fugitives and their helpers with a relatively safe way to create trust among strangers and to obtain much-needed resources.


This article investigates how Jewish fugitives overcame their social isolation and disempowerment, managed to build trusted ties to helpers and thereby built a personal support network which helped them to survive1.They achieved this by means of personal recommendations, which may not be the first thing one associates with helping behaviour or self-help. Such recommendations were nevertheless of crucial importance for the distribution of trusted new contacts. In essence, a recommendation is an act of brokerage. Say person A has trusted ties with B and C. Once A brings B and C together, they can begin to trust each other based on their mutual trust in A. Chains of such contact brokerage provided fugitives access to one of the rarest resources: strangers who would be willing to help them.

Historical context: Jewish life in National Socialist Germany

The stories of survival and support which will be discussed in this paper have been shaped by the times in which they occurred in numerous ways. The actions of helpers and survivors can only be understood against the background of highly restrictive social control in National Socialist Germany. Immediately after coming to power, Hitler had ordered the arrest of numerous political opponents and forced many others into emigration. This meant a significant weakening of any political opposition and the destruction of former trusted networks2.Most forms of public protest had been quieted after 1939. Whoever wanted to resist National Socialism in Germany would become part of the “loneliest of all European resistance groups” and belong to a small minority “without any influence before and during the war – observed and denunciated by large numbers of spies and Blockwarten, members of housing communities who ensured that residents complied with the regime's demands3.” This brutal suppression of opposition meant that any opposition was forced to organize itself in small groups that could remain below the radar of spies and denunciators. Contact to these groups was crucial for help-seeking fugitives and for the emergence of support networks in general.
At the same time many Germans applauded that the Sudeten territories “come home” and that the old dream of a “Great German empire” had become true after Austria had been annexed in 1938. In the following year many were enthusiastic about the Wehrmacht’s quick victory over Poland and rapid progress in France. From October 1941 this period of elated national pride was accompanied by an anti-Semitic propaganda campaign which held Jews responsible for the outbreak of the war. This climate further limited the agency of any remaining opposition against the Nazis. Only towards the end of the war, when the fear of defeat became a certainty and the regime intensified its efforts to spread fear of horrific Allied acts of revenge, did the opposition against Hitler grow.

Since 1938, after the Novemberpogrom, emigration was almost impossible. With the outbreak of the war, Jews were forced to move into so-called Jew houses (Judenhäuser), low-quality and overpopulated housing4.By the early 1940s Jews in Berlin and elsewhere in the German Reich had been subject to systematic disempowerment for several years. Jews did not have direct access to public life as exemplified by the usage of radios, cinemas, were often robbed of a large part of their possessions, were significantly hampered in pursuing their legal rights, had lost contact to former friends, neighbours, colleagues or customers and finally had to spent long hours in forced labour5.Being Jewish also became a visible stigma in 1941 with the introduction of the yellow Jew star which discriminated against Jews in public. By then, contacts between “Aryans” and Jews had been declared illegal and were punishable with arrest “in severe cases up to three months in a concentration camp level 16”. At this stage 164.000 Jews remained in Germany, “an isolated and statistical impoverished and overaged group, a large part of which were forced labourers7”. While deportations in the Reich had already begun in October 1941, in Berlin they were held back until a year later; valuable time for Jews and their helpers to learn about the real purpose of the “relocation” and its consequences. Still, most Jews in Berlin wavered “between not-knowing, knowing and not-wanting to know8”. It is estimated that 12.000 of them chose to go into hiding in Germany, among them 7.000 in Berlin9.

Both fugitives and their helpers had to adapt to ever more aggressive measures of persecution and wartime restrictions. At the same time, they continuously succeeded in finding niches which saved them from being discovered. These were often small, un-Nazified communities of typically no more than 12-30 individuals which Martin Broszat named “resistant” with reference to the medical connotation of the term and hinting at the weaknesses in the administrative procedures of the Holocaust10.

Roughly a third of all Jews whose fate was recorded by the Memorial of German Resistance in Berlin11 went into hiding in autumn 1942, but more than half as late as February 194312. Jews whose looks matched the anti-Semitic clichés of “Jewishness” were at particularly high risks. On top of this, young men were always suspected of having deserted from the Wehrmacht and therefore were subject to frequent identity checks by the police. As the Jews were not drafted in the “German” Army, young male Jews in particular had to rely on forged documents. Another threat came from Jewish spies, fugitives who had been caught and forced to catch others. Threatened with their own death or that of their families they used their inside knowledge of covert networks to find and denunciate helpers and other fugitives13.Of all those who went into hiding in Berlin only 1.500 are known to have survived.

Mapping acts of help with Social Network Analysis tools

This study is based on the integration of historical research methods for the selection, analysis and interpretation of primary sources, tools in sociological qualitative data analysis for the development of a data model to systematically collect information on helping behavior and on network analysis tools for the exploration of this data.
Based on the careful evaluation of primary sources, I developed a data model which characterizes the relationships between actors in five dimensions: form of help, intensity of relationships, motives for action, date of help and date of first meeting. For each actor I furthermore collected attribute data on their status according to National Socialist race categories and their gender.
For each type of tie and attribute I defined subcategories. The type of tie “form of help” for example contains the subcategories “food”, “accommodation”, “contact brokerage” and “money” amongst others. I also collected descriptions of “emotional support” which helped fugitives manage with the extremely high pressure, fear and the feeling of isolation. Following best practices in qualitative data analysis I defined each subcategory and provided three to five examples from the primary sources14.The data was stored in Microsoft Excel sheets and visualized using NodeXL15and Gephi16.

Erna Segal’s decision to go into hiding

The Segal family, whose account of survival is in the centre of this article, managed to survive with the help of 79 individuals, many of which they had not known before. In 1956 Erna Segal finished a manuscript of 250 typewritten pages which tells of their experiences before and during the war. She gives detailed accounts of how she and her family made contact to helpers and built relationships with them. Their experiences, tactics, fears and problems are comparable to those of other fugitives. Erna Segal’s recollections have been verified as far as possible by cross-referencing them with other documents. This task was challenging as she had chosen to change the names of many of them17.

Aron and Erna Segal made their living by selling fur coats, a business which – according to her post-war account – provided them with a comfortable life. In face of the increasingly aggressive measures of persecution the couple retreated more and more from public life. They sold their business in 1934 and lived of the income generated by a number of apartment buildings18.While his wife Erna had frequently wanted to emigrate, Aron Segal insisted on staying in Germany. On a Saturday afternoon, shortly before Easter 1942, Erna Segal was stopped by a Wehrmacht soldier. A complete stranger to her, he had noticed the Jewish star she was wearing and told her of the horrors he had experienced on the Eastern front and insisted that she should refuse to report for deportation but should go into hiding with the help of friends19.We can assume that this incident has triggered Erna Segal’s decision to eventually go in the underground. Erna and Aron soon began to prepare their illegal lives.
Like many others who managed to survive in hiding, the family could rely on their financial means. Before they went into hiding Aron bought pieces of jewelry which they planned to keep as a reserve which they could monetize at a later stage. In the years to come he would regularly seek out a jeweler and trade the pieces for money20.In addition the couple kept some furniture at a friend’s house.

A first hiding place and the creation of trust

The ability to build trusted ties to strangers was essential for the survival of Jewish fugitives. One case of betrayed trust would mean arrest, interrogations and ultimately death.
Erna describes her search for suitable hideouts at the beginning of her life in the underground:

„Now we considered all Aryans which were absolutely trustworthy. I had a good tailor which a friend of mine and I regularly used. (…) I would sit there for hours, helped out a little in order to learn about sewing with the idea to make a living with this once we emigrate. I decided to trust these people. I went to see them and told them about my plan. They were very well informed and had even agreed to look after a number of suitcases with valuables of one of our friends who had been forced to leave the country. These people hoped to come back and had great trust in the tailor. Mr and Mrs Dovsky [the tailors] immediately agreed to my plan. They would take my son and me in. We agreed on a substantial monthly payment and in addition I would run their household and help them with the sewing.“21

It is remarkable how carefully Erna selected these helpers. She had known them as good craftsmen and gotten to know them personally during a few days of joint work. Secondly she relied on information by third parties which confirmed that the couple had in the past proven their opposition to the Nazis and had helped friends of Erna’s. Knowledge of this previous act of help for a mutually trusted fugitive served as a direct recommendation and confirmed her trust in the couple. This helped both Erna and the tailours to minimize the risk of being betrayed by the other and allowed them to build a trusted relation. Fear of Gestapo spies who played the part of Jewish fugitives was real among helpers and therefore they too needed to be able to trust whoever they decided to help22.This simple triangular constellation between two strangers and a mutually trusted third party who would allow strangers to develop trusted ties occurs in all cases of support for Jewish fugitives and was the basis for the brokerage chains which will be discussed below.
The tie between Erna and the tailor couple was further strengthened by the fact that she would pay them a “substantial” amount of money, help them in their household and contribute to their business. This must have made this arrangement significantly more attractive to the helpers. In summary, Erna had four reasons to hope that the Dovsky couple would keep their promise:

1.    Her knowledge of their opposition to the Nazis
2.    Her own impression of them
3.    Her friend’s recommendation
4.    Her payments and other services she offered.

However, when she noticed that Dovsky’s daughter went out with a “Nazi”, the family left their hideout immediately, fearing that it had become unsafe for them to stay. But wherever possible, Erna would rely on these four factors when developing trusted ties to strangers.

Creating trusted relationships under false premises

From summer 1943 onwards, after she had found a number of new helpers through recommendation, Erna Segal was forced to approach strangers herself. In all cases she disguised her true identity:

 „I was not able to find accommodation with any of my acquaintances. So I wondered how we could prepare strangers for our plans without letting them in on our secret. The next day I went to the allotments. It was a wonderful autumn day. A few of the owners sat outside and were willing to chat with me. Whenever people appeared likable and I had the feeling that they would not pose a threat I would start a conversation with them. In this way I got to talk to a very nice woman. She told me that her husband was a soldier in Russia. She had an 8 year old daughter with whom she spent the nights in the bunker. Unfortunately she had to leave her 14 year old son behind in her small house in the allotment area, he could only come with her during the alarms. Now I tried to find out about her political views and began to subtly questioning her. Much to my joy she told me that she and her husband were both Anti-Nazi but that, as she put it, they had to howl along with the wolves. She told me that she would not usually voice her opinions when talking to the neighbours since one had to be very careful. Now I started my own campaign. I told her that I stayed with Wanda, that my husband too was a soldier, that my oldest son was missing and that I now lived with my youngest son Jerry. I also told her that I was very sick and had no opportunity to find a secure bunker since I would not be able to walk because of my Asthma but that experiencing regular alarms in a simple cellar was a horrible experience for me. I suggested to spend the nights together with her son so that he would not be alone and in case of alarms we could come and join her in the cellar. Of course I was willing to pay her rent. She loved the idea and I already spent the following night in her house23.“

Again Erna acts very rational in finding a potential new helper. By weaving together truths, half-truths and lies she presented herself as a companion facing similar misfortunes and directly addressed the needs of the woman she talked to. As before, she used her connection to Wanda who was well-known in the allotment area to gain extra credibility. On top of this, payment for her accommodation further secured her new arrangement. And it seems to have been successful. Frau Held, the women she had talked to introduced her to Frau Moos:

“Very quickly I gained the trust of this woman, brought Wanda over who confirmed that me and Jerry stayed with her. Frau Moos already knew that I stayed with Frau Held24.“ 

This meant that Erna was able to confirm her false identity twice: once with the help of Wanda who was well-known in the area and through Frau Held who believed her story. Erna thereby succeeded in finding a new uninformed helper with support from another uninformed helper. Again she designed an arrangement which suited the needs of all parties involved.
This chain of uninformed helpers grew longer still when Frau Moos introduced her to Frau Ross who agreed to host Manfred Segal, also in return for payments. On a different occasion Erna had approached an elderly man in a park. After she told him her half-true story he offered help from his friends:

„I was very surprised when he said that close to Berlin in Motzen-Mühle, a wonderful place, he had friends which he went to see every summer. Everybody knew him there. May he help me. I was overwhelmed with joy and the next day we went there. He introduced me to his friends who had however already rented out all rooms. He then took me to the Holz family, told them he had known me for a long time and told them my story. I was very lucky and they indeed still had a room available and rented it to me25.”

On this occasion an uninformed helper not only believed in Erna’s story but also lied in order to help her. Erna gives more examples of this kind in her report26.Today it is impossible to know whether or not these helpers knew or suspected Erna’s true identity. In her report she is convinced that they were not suspicious at all. But even if they had been and decided not to ask any further questions, the above described examples show that effective brokerage was possible even if it was based on false premises and unvoiced suspicion. Arrangements like these may be characterized as “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreements and surely occurred in many instances.
Yet, all of the above mentioned contacts relied on the creation of trust: Erna took the identity of an “Aryan” woman who suffered from the bombardments, utilized existing trusted ties to build new ones and offered payments and other services in return. Whether or not the approached individuals knew of her true identity: Her clearly signaled need for help and the services she offered in return helped her to gain the trust of strangers. Erna Segal’s report mentions 79 helpers. Fifteen of them (according to her) did not know her true identity. In nine of these cases helpers did not even know that they were helping Jews.

The emergence of brokerage chains

In many cases Erna Segal and her family had to rely on the judgment of others who would broker contacts for them. As one helper recommended them to the next, long brokerage chains emerged which provided the family with access to a very large number of potential helpers in very different social milieus.
In Figure 1 a tie between two nodes represents a contact brokerage. An example: The not otherwise identifiable “bekanntes Ehepaar”, acquaintances of Erna Segal, had agreed to help the family. Then they approached their acquaintances Mr and Mrs Scholz and asked them whether they would be willing to help the Segal family as well. When Mr and Mrs Scholz agreed, the Segal family had reason to trust them based on this personal recommendation. The “bekanntes Ehepaar” acted as a contact broker in this case. This basic recommendation process was reiterated when Mr and Mrs Scholz became brokers and approached their acquaintance Mrs Weil who also agreed to help. These contact brokerages linked up to long chains and provided the Segal family with new pools of potential helpers and much needed resources. The overall involvement of these helpers however differs greatly. Some provided the family with accommodation and food, others merely helped them with a new contact27.

Figure 1: Long brokerage chains link up to eight helpers to each other and provide opportunities to create trusted ties with strangers.


From the helpers’ perspective, this form of help required relatively little risk and effort – as long as all parties involved were trustworthy. Brokerage for and by Jewish fugitives remains and under-researched form of support even though it provided access to the rarest resource: People who were willing and capable to provide food, accommodation and forged documents.
Contrary to the impression an aggregated view such as in Figure 1 may give, ties with helpers in brokerage chains were often one-off contacts. Most helpers did not know more than the previous and the following link in the chain28.They therefore could not foresee the mid-term consequences of their actions; for all they knew was that they had helped a fugitive one step along the way by recommending the most suitable helper they could think of29.

Despite the inherent and considerable risk for fugitives, these brokerages greatly improved the probability of being introduced to capable helpers. The case of the Segal family gives an example of this side-effect: After five acts of brokerage they were introduced to Dr. Fritz Aub. Aub himself brokered contacts to several other helpers over the years, became their doctor, provided emotional support and became one of the helpers the family could always fall back on30.

The Segal family had to continuously change their hideouts and find new helpers. Within the support network the family built, Erna was the most central and best connected actor. In most cases other than brokerage through chains, Erna made contact to new potential helpers. Erna Segals report gives 23 examples of how the family came into contact with strangers. In 18 cases Erna directly approached people and asked for help. Her daughter Gerda and Aron had each asked once. On only three occasions third parties had initiated an act of help31.There is however a small number of helpers with whom the family had been in contact before 1938. Erna did not characterize any of them as close friends but as more or less loose acquaintances. In her report she recounts several occasions when – in dire need for new helpers – she would go through the list of acquaintances she remembered and eventually approach some of them32.It is surprising that out of 17 old acquaintances only three were willing or able to provide accommodation for them for more than one night. Instead, these old acquaintances acted as brokers for new helpers who were far more willing or able to provide longer accommodation. Of 12 contacts which led to long-lasting acts of help, six were brokered by old acquaintances, four by the newly found helpers Aub and Eva. The family never paid for new contacts. It seems that (differently from the provision of accommodation, food or documents) money could not buy contacts to new helpers.

A look at the duration of help in the case of the Segal family reveals a high number of short-term hideouts which the family used irregularly over a period of months. Fugitives crucially depended on a number of particularly involved helpers on whom they could fall back on. The Segal family met almost all of them after they went into hiding, the aforementioned Dr. Aub was one of them. From 1943 onwards the family found these helpers inasmuch by their own efforts and through brokerage chains. This once more confirms their great potential for new contacts. It also shows just how much the family and all Jewish fugitives for that matter were responsible for their survival. It is for this and other indicators that I choose to speak of “help” instead of “rescue”, the latter implying passivity on the side of the rescued.

A necessarily broad characterization of helpers’ motives shows that half of the family’s helpers was driven by the expected material reward, a quarter by humanitarian goals and only one-sixth as a result of a close personal bond. These categories are obviously not mutually exclusive and any such classification first and foremost depends on Erna’s depiction in her report. Still, despite all these shortcomings and the itself difficult question what a human motive is, I believe that Erna’s report can be used to infer the primary reasons for the involvement of the respective helpers.

Long-term supporters

Among the particularly involved and reliable helpers were Wanda Feuerherm, Mr and Mrs Grimm and two helpers we only know by the names “Hilda” and “Marie”. It remains blurry how exactly Erna had met Wanda but they did not meet each other before the family went into hiding. Wanda had acted as a contact broker, had taken in Gerda Segal and had provided Erna’s hideout when she was not able to find any other helpers33.Of similar importance were Hilda and Marie which Erna met through Mr and Mrs Schell who were too scared to help themselves:

„Both remembered two women they had met in a grocery store which was run by another Anti-Nazi. They would met there and talk about the progress of the war and share their joy over Hitler’s defeat. (…) On the following day she brought me to the two women she had mentioned. This was the luckiest event in our illegal lives. Hilda and Marie took me in and immediately treated me like an old friend. (…) We could come and go as we pleased and later, when we urgently needed a place for the night, there was always a place for us there34.”

Similarly to Wanda, both helped over a longer period of time and also provided important emotional support:

„Both women were just wonderfully selfless and good, as only few humans can be! Hilda was tall and strong, helpful and brave. When I remember her I always think of the [Berlin] column of victory. Sure of victory and steady she made her way35.“

Differently to most other helpers, Hilda and Marie did not have a specific agreement with Erna regarding the conditions for their help. They refused to take any compensation and shared their food rations with the family. Even though Erna tried not to exploit the willingness to help of any of the family’s helpers she and her children would often rely on Hilda and Marie’s help.

The family’s long-term acquaintance Mrs Grimm who had vague knowledge of Erna Segal’s Jewishness and whose son had spent time in a concentration camp was a special case. She and her husband would also regularly offer them a place to stay, however under very different circumstances. After having met Gerda Segal by coincidence, they invited Erna to their place in late autumn 1944. Even after Erna – following her usual strategy – had offered to compensate them, Mr Grimm however at first remained sceptical as to whether they should get involved. Eventually however he agreed to do it:

„As a party member he was scared that he would be brought to Siberia and pondered how he could escape this fate. (…) I asked them whether they would be willing to take in [my son] Manfred in return for an appropriate compensation. Now they agreed36.”

From this point onwards the couple was part of the support network. They were quick to try and turn their commitment into an asset as Erna noted after the arrival of the Red Army in 1945 which they witnessed at their place:

“Mr and Mrs Grimm immediately told all tenants that we were Jews and that they had helped us! Everybody was astonished and I was shocked that they would announce this already now! The tenants remained speechless since Grimm’s had been known as good Nazis, they could not stop wondering!37

This episode highlights the complexity and moral ambiguities behind the motivation to help.  In many cases, helping behaviour needs to be understood in the context of the realization of self-interests, be they financial, emotional or as in this case directly connected to one’s expectation for the time after Germany’s defeat.


Broszat, Martin. “Zur Sozialgeschichte Des Deutschen Widerstands.” Vierteljahrshefte Für Zeitgeschichte 34, no. 3 (1986): 293–309.
Broszat, Martin, and Elke Fröhlich. Alltag und Widerstand: Bayern im Nationalsozialismus. Piper, 1987.
Gamper, Markus, Linda Reschke, and Marten Düring. Knoten und Kanten III Soziale Netzwerkanalyse in Geschichts- und Politikforschung. Bielefeld: transcript, 2015.
Gedenkstätte deutscher Widerstand Berlin. Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand Berlin. Berlin, 2012.
“Gephi (The Open Graph Viz Platform).” Accessed March 30, 2015.
Gruner, Wolf. Judenverfolgung in Berlin 1933-1945: Eine Chronologie Der Behördenmaßnahmen in Der Reichshauptstadt. Berlin: Topographie des Terrors, 2009.
Gudehus, Christian. “Verfolgten Helfen. Heuristiken und Perspektiven (am Beispiel des Holocaust).” Article. Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, September 22, 2015.
Kosmala, Beate. “Stille Helden.” Aus Politik Und Zeitgeschichte. Beilage Zur Wochenzeitung Das Parlament 14–15 (2007).
———. “Stille Helden.” In Rettungswiderstand, edited by Arno Lustiger, 34–48. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011.
———. “Zwischen Ahnen Und Wissen.” In Die Deportation Der Juden Aus Deutschland, edited by Christoph Dieckmann, 135–59. Göttingen: Wallstein-Verl., 2004.
Lustiger, Arno. “Einführung.” In Rettungswiderstand, edited by Arno Lustiger, 17–32. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011.
Miles, Matthew B., A. M. Huberman, and Johnny Saldaña. Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, Califorinia: SAGE Publications, Inc, 2014.
Moore, Bob. Survivors: Jewish Self-Help and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied Western Europe. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Schieb, Barbara. Interview with Konrad Latte. Berlin: Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, 1989.
Schoppmann, Claudia. “Die ‘Fabrikaktion’ in Berlin: Hilfe Für Untergetauchte Juden Als Form Des Humanitären Widerstandes.” Zeitschrift Für Geschichtswissenschaft 53, no. 2 (2005): 138–48.
Schwarz, Angelika. “Von Den Wohnstiften Zu Den ‘Judenhäusern.’” In Kein Abgeschlossenes Kapitel, edited by Angelika Ebbinghaus and Karsten Linne. Hamburg: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1997.
Segal, Erna. Autobiographical Report Erna Segal. Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, 1956.
Smith, M., N. Milic-Frayling, B. Shneiderman, Mendes Rodrigues, Leskovec E., J., and C. Dunne. NodeXL: A Free and Open Network Overview, Discovery and Exploration Add-in for Excel 2007/2010. The Social Media Research Foundation, 2011.
Tausendfreund, Doris. Erzwungener Verrat: “Jüdische Greifer” Im Dienst Der Gestapo 1943 - 1945: Techn. Univ., Diss.–Berlin, 2005. Vol. 62. Reihe Dokumente, Texte, Materialien. Berlin: Metropol Verl., 2006.
Varese, Federico, and Meir Yaish. “The Importance of Being Asked the Rescue of Jews in Nazi Europe.” Rationality and Society 12, no. 3 (August 1, 2000): 307–34. doi:10.1177/104346300012003003.
Willems, Susanne. Der Entsiedelte Jude: Albert Speers Wohnungsmarktpolitik Für Den Berliner Hauptstadtbau. 1st ed. Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 2002.


  • 1. Research for this article was generously funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. An earlier version of this article appeared in Markus Gamper, Linda Reschke, and Marten Düring, Knoten und Kanten III Soziale Netzwerkanalyse in Geschichts- und Politikforschung (Bielefeld: transcript, 2015) with kind permission from the editors and publisher.
  • 2. Numerous cases are discussed in: Bob Moore, Survivors: Jewish Self-Help and Rescue in Nazi-Occupied Western Europe (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • 3. Arno Lustiger, “Einführung,” in Rettungswiderstand, ed. Arno Lustiger (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011), 17.
  • 4. On the history of „Jew houses“ see: Susanne Willems, Der Entsiedelte Jude: Albert Speers Wohnungsmarktpolitik Für Den Berliner Hauptstadtbau, 1st ed. (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 2002). and Angelika Schwarz, “Von Den Wohnstiften Zu Den ‘Judenhäusern,’” in Kein Abgeschlossenes Kapitel, ed. Angelika Ebbinghaus and Karsten Linne (Hamburg: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1997).
  • 5. For a detailed account of anti-Jewish legislation in Berlin see: Wolf Gruner, Judenverfolgung in Berlin 1933-1945: Eine Chronologie Der Behördenmaßnahmen in Der Reichshauptstadt (Berlin: Topographie des Terrors, 2009). and Claudia Schoppmann, “Die ‘Fabrikaktion’ in Berlin: Hilfe Für Untergetauchte Juden Als Form Des Humanitären Widerstandes,” Zeitschrift Für Geschichtswissenschaft 53, no. 2 (2005): 138–48.
  • 6. Cited in: Lustiger, “Einführung,” 21.
  • 7. Beate Kosmala, “Stille Helden,” Aus Politik Und Zeitgeschichte. Beilage Zur Wochenzeitung Das Parlament 14–15 (2007): 34,
  • 8. Karl-Heinz Reuband, cited in: Beate Kosmala, “Zwischen Ahnen Und Wissen,” in Die Deportation Der Juden Aus Deutschland, ed. Christoph Dieckmann (Göttingen: Wallstein-Verl., 2004), 136.
  • 9. Beate Kosmala, “Stille Helden,” in Rettungswiderstand, ed. Arno Lustiger (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2011), 34.
  • 10. Martin Broszat, “Zur Sozialgeschichte Des Deutschen Widerstands,” Vierteljahrshefte Für Zeitgeschichte 34, no. 3 (1986): 293–309,; Martin Broszat and Elke Fröhlich, Alltag und Widerstand: Bayern im Nationalsozialismus (Piper, 1987).
  • 11. Gedenkstätte deutscher Widerstand Berlin, Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand Berlin (Berlin, 2012),
  • 12. Kosmala, “Zwischen Ahnen Und Wissen,” 140.
  • 13. On the history of Jewish spies in Berlin see: Doris Tausendfreund, Erzwungener Verrat: “Jüdische Greifer” Im Dienst Der Gestapo 1943 - 1945: Techn. Univ., Diss.–Berlin, 2005., vol. 62, Reihe Dokumente, Texte, Materialien (Berlin: Metropol Verl., 2006).
  • 14. Matthew B. Miles, A. M. Huberman, and Johnny Saldaña, Qualitative Data Analysis: A Methods Sourcebook, 3rd ed. (Thousand Oaks, Califorinia: SAGE Publications, Inc, 2014).
  • 15. M. Smith et al., NodeXL: A Free and Open Network Overview, Discovery and Exploration Add-in for Excel 2007/2010 (The Social Media Research Foundation, 2011),
  • 16. “Gephi (The Open Graph Viz Platform),” accessed March 30, 2015,
  • 17. Erna Segal chose to change the names of her children Gerda and Manfred, some helpers are only introduced with their first names or unidentifiably as “Countess” or “Priest”. At this stage only three helpers have been identified beyond doubt, the names of two others appear in a contemporary phonebook however additional information is lacking at this stage. The helpers Wanda Feuerherm and Dr. Aub have been honoured as Righteous among the Nations by the Israeli memorial YadVashem.
  • 18. Erna Segal, Autobiographical Report Erna Segal (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, 1956), 39.
  • 19. id., 90.
  • 20. Ibid., 75.
  • 21. Ibid., 94–95 [my translation].
  • 22. Tausendfreund, Erzwungener Verrat: “Jüdische Greifer” Im Dienst Der Gestapo 1943 - 1945: Techn. Univ., Diss.–Berlin, 2005. The fugitive Konrad Latte described in an interview how a potential helper became scared upon learning about him and refused to help since he had feared a trap by the Gestapo. Barbara Schieb, Interview with Konrad Latte (Berlin: Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, 1989). Ibid.
  • 23. Segal, Autobiographical Report Erna Segal, 143 [my translation].
  • 24. Ibid [my translation].
  • 25. Ibid., 114–115 [my translation].
  • 26. Ibid., 156;159.
  • 27. A deeper analysis of these social structures is however difficult. Erna Segal usually only provides on little information on the relationship between her helpers. She frequently describes them as “acquaintances” or “friends” without any additional characterization. Any further analysis of these alteri ties is therefore problematic.
  • 28. We lack detailed information on the relationships between brokers and potential new helpers within brokerage chains. However, in 13 out of 37 cases, brokers and new helpers shared strong and trusted ties.
  • 29. This of course did not necessarily have to the objectively best suited helper.
  • 30. Segal, Autobiographical Report Erna Segal, 132; 139; 140; 151; 173; 193; 196.
  • 31. Requests for help are a highly relevant situational factor. See Federico Varese and Meir Yaish, “The Importance of Being Asked the Rescue of Jews in Nazi Europe,” Rationality and Society 12, no. 3 (August 1, 2000): 307–34, doi:10.1177/104346300012003003 and Christian Gudehus, “Verfolgten Helfen. Heuristiken und Perspektiven (am Beispiel des Holocaust),”

    Any such numbers can of course only show a tendency since Erna’s report does not contain descriptions of all such events and since we have to assume that any first-person account of this type will allocate more room for descriptions of personal actions and thereby distort a balanced representation of the involvement of others.

    A closer look at the intensity of relations between the family and their helpers reveals that most ties had indeed been built after the family went into hidingTo this end I have analyzed the relations of the Segal family to 54 of their helpers for which there was sufficient information available as to the particulars of their relation. This information was not available for the remaining 25 helpers.

  • 32. Counted were all relations the four family members held with other helpers, I found 9 acquaintances and four relations characterized as „friendships“. Relations were interpreted based on Erna Segals account, any ambiguous characterizations have been ignored. Also ignored were ties between the family members (8) as well as ties between the helpers (25). In 14 cases no sufficient information was available.
  • 33. Wanda’s help with accommodation, food and emotional support is mentioned on more than 20 occasions throughout the report.
  • 34. Segal, Autobiographical Report Erna Segal, 145 [my translation].
  • 35. Ibid., 169 [my translation].
  • 36. Ibid., 176 [my translation].
  • 37. Ibid., 211 [my translation].

Cite this item

Marten Düring, The dynamics of helping behaviour for Jewish fugitives during the Second World War: The importance of brokerage. The Segal Family’s Case., Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 29 March, 2016, accessed 17/05/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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