Protectors of Pluralism

book cover
Full Name
Robert Braun

Why do some religious groups protect victims of genocide while others do not? This book argues that local religious minorities are more likely to save persecuted groups. Two reinforcing mechanisms link minority status to rescue operations. First, religious minorities are better able to set up clandestine organizations because their members are more committed. Second, religious minorities empathize with targets of purification campaigns, imbuing their networks with preferences that lead them to resist genocide. A geo-referenced dataset of Jewish evasion in the Netherlands and Belgium during the Holocaust is deployed to assess the minority hypothesis. Spatial statistics and archival work reveal that Protestants were more likely to rescue Jews in Catholic regions while Catholics facilitated evasion in Protestant areas. Post-war testimonies and secondary literature demonstrate the importance of minority groups for rescue in other countries and Genocides, underlining that it is the local position of church communities -and not something inherent to any religion itself- that produces networks of assistance to threatened neighbors.