Bystanders & Complicity

Jews arriving in Będzin from surrounding areas,
April 1941.

A bystander is someone who watches but does not intervene when horrible events happen in one’s immediate or larger environment. During the Holocaust, bystanders watched as friends, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors were harassed, discriminated against, and eventually removed from society.


Jews forced to drain the Przemsza River near Będzin. Take note of the German civilian overseers and local onlookers.

Although most people in Germany and in Europe were aware to different degrees of what was happening to the Jewish people, they did little to stop their social exclusions or to resist the violent events unfolding in their neighborhoods,towns, or regions. While some groups attempted to stand against the Nazis, the majority stood idly by, letting the Nazi regime continue its terrorizing assault on European Jews. Those who remained neutral to the Nazi actions contributed to the Nazi hold on power and the eventual annihilation of European Jewry.


For more information:

Yad Vashem: Bystanders