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January 10, 1964 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-01-10

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What was the motivation
which impelled some gentiles to
aid European Jews during
World War II? Were their
actions the result of deep feel-
ings of guilt as some Freudians
would claim; or were they the
result of some innate feelings
of goodness common to human
Psychologist Perry London of
California is trying to attempt
to find answers to these ques-
tions in a project he is under-
taking under the sponsorship
of the Institute for the Right-
eous Acts, Documentation and
Study Center on Rescuers of
Jews in the Nazi Era.
The institute, located in Oak-
land, Calif., is studying the
actions of a small but brave
group of people who tried to
help the Jews at the risk of
their own lives.
Much of modern day psy-
chology operates from the
point of view that man is in-
herently bad, or worse. As
London sees it:
"For some generations now,
the dominant view of theory and
research in the social and be-
havioral sciences has been one
which portrays an image of man
which makes it all too easy to
understand the development of
those motives which are the
worst within him.
"From Freud to Hull and
beyond, the implication of this
theory, alleging that all moti-
vation is instinctively self-seek-
ing, guided only by the need
to best satisfy oneself, explains
only too readily the all-too-
evident history of man's inhu-
manity to man . . . According
to this theory, man is not, to
say the least, an altruist.
"He is not merely animal
either. Elegantly refined, re-
stated, and revised, social man
in this purview is Hobbesian
man, not animal alone, but
mostly wolf.
"I find this view saddening,
but surely there is no proof
that it is wrong, and much
good sense and evidence sup-
ports it. Surely, man is not
born altruistic, is not natively
disposed to keep his brother."
London goes on to posit the
idea that psychologists have al-
ways studied the shadowy side
of man's nature and the gener-
ous and noble aspects have not
been the object of much re-
"In the light of history and
circumstance, we seem to un-
derstand why whites oppress
and segregate the Negroes—but
do we seek to understand as
well, or even ask, why Freedom
Riders ride?"
Three reasons are given for
'the study of the non-Jews who
tried to come to the aid of their
Jewish compatriots:
1. The behavior in question
involves a more pure opera-
tional criterion for altruistic
behavior than any other pos-
sible one.
2. There are, by the usual
standards of formal social sci-
ence, a very large number of
people involved, so that a large
enough sample can be taken to
permit the statistical analysis
of the data obtained.
3. There is not much time left
to do the study if it is to be
done at all.
The time element is of ex-
treme importance because many
of those rescued were elderly
people who have since died.
Moreover, many of those who
are still living have forgotten
many of the details of their
escape and the names of those
who helped them.

Electrical Genius
Peter T. Riess, a 19th cen-
tury German Jewish physicist,
was a pioneer in the fields of
static electricity, induction and
heat effect. He was the first
Jew to be admitted to the Prus-
sian Academy of Sciences.

It is for these reasons that
London would like to hear
from as many Jews as pos-
sible who were helped. Only
from them can he find the
names and location of the in-
dividuals who afforded relief

from the Nazi regime.
IL asking American Rabbis to
bring this study to the attention
of their congregations, he said:
"I want you to make it pos-
sible for me, and those like me
whose only tools are techno-

logical, and none of them too
sharp, to use our knowledge and
skills as best we can in this
great inquiry, for whatever
benefit it may confer on man.
If there could be sacred work
for us, this might qualify."

London's Cannel College
Has Kennedy Endowment
Carmel College, London, Eng-
land, is among the many insti-
tutions that have established
memorials in tribute to Presi-
dent Kennedy. This college has
set up an endowment fund in
the name of Kennedy.

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1 5—THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS—Fri day , January 10, 1964

U.S. Psychologist Seeks Motivation. of Gentiles Who Protected Jews

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