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"Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust: Fact or Fiction? " Topic

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846 hits since 31 Oct 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 12:04 p.m. PST

"For close to fifteen years after the Holocaust there was little written about the resistance of the European Jewish population against the Nazis and their collaborators. According to Michael Marrus in his article "Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust" the reason for this is "…most Jews had little stomach for myth-making of any kind about Jewish resistance in the immediate shock of the war. It was all Jews could do in the first postwar years to absorb the reality of mass murder on an unimagined scale…"[2] Only after the shock of the attempted liquidation of the whole population of European Jews wore off did some solid historiography emerge about Jewish resistance. The trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel also prompted more historians to examine Jewish resistance, especially outside of Israel and Yiddish speaking populations. Two historians emerged during this time, Hannah Arendt and Raul Hilberg, with views that the Jews did not resist, at least not on a scale that would have made their resistance successful. Other historians have taken the other side of the debate and claim that the Jewish population did indeed resist. The problem with the historiography of Jewish resistance is the definition of resistance itself. Is resistance only resistance if it is armed? Can there be other forms of resistance that do not require the use of weapons? In analyzing the historiography of Jewish resistance I will first define the different types of resistance. I will also address the different arenas where resistance took place, as well as the different partisan movements that occurred throughout the continent. Finally, I will examine the opinions of the major historians of Jewish resistance to understand what the consensus is among Holocaust historians…"
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Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2017 12:22 p.m. PST

Hannah Arendt is rather fascinating and worth the effort to read at least part of some of her writings. She covered the Eichmann trial for the New Yorker and is credited with coining the phrase "Banality of Evil" which comes from the title for her book "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil". This very phrase has been very much debated and Ms Arendt often complained most over simplified her point or totally misunderstood it.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2017 11:51 a.m. PST



Skarper01 Nov 2017 12:41 p.m. PST

As I understand it there was not much organised resistance because the Germans crushed it ruthlessly.

It was far harder to fight back than many today imagine.

laretenue02 Nov 2017 5:36 a.m. PST

To talk of 'Jewish resistance' possibly casts the debate so widely as to confuse the picture. Organised resistance to the deportations and camps before the War was doomed to be ineffective, and those who were able to leave were the lucky ones. But also consider hows Jews were among the first in France to oppose the Germans before 1942 (and how their oppression acted as a wider catalyst) and the roles played by Jews in the Warsaw Rising. You might also consider the contributions of German-speaking Jews to the intelligence efforts and Special Ops of Britain's military, or the later recruitment of the British Army's Jewish Brigade as part of the wider struggle against Nazism.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Nov 2017 8:55 a.m. PST

Death camp inmates themselves rose up and/or performed destructive sabotage in at least Sobibor, Treblinka, and even dynamited the crematoria of Auschwitz.

Escapees from camps and ghettos frequently joined partisan units, particularly in Russia, and a few smaller groups of Jews formed their own active partisan groups.

At least one inmate of Treblinka was not merely gotten out of the death camp, but smuggled out of Europe to the US where he told exactly what was going on, only to be treated my most newspapers as someone spreading propaganda.

This is certainly the sort of "resistance" that counts most. Blurring the focus to include symbolic and minimally ineffectual demonstrations of "resistance" obscures these truly heroic acts.

The history is out there, people. Read it!


Skarper02 Nov 2017 10:13 a.m. PST

There certainly was some resistance and it was undoubtedly heroic even when futile.

It was hard to fight back. The victims were starved, abused, terrorized and always had some vague hope they or some family members might survive.

The Germans were cunning and knew how to control their captives while they waited for the end.

The film Defiance (2008) is about an attempt at organized resistance.

But given the scale of the horror the resistance pales in comparison.

I've seen the film Hannah Arendt (2012) and what she went thru for simply publishing what she found out is shocking.

I've also seen the Eichmann Tapes. Also well worth the effort to track down.

Wolfhag02 Nov 2017 3:10 p.m. PST

It's pretty hard to fight back after the government has taken your guns.


AlexWood Inactive Member03 Nov 2017 6:55 a.m. PST

Guns or no guns* a small minority resist, a small minority collaborate and the vast bulk in the middle just try to survive.

And that holds true across the whole of humanity.

*And, yes, resistance takes many forms not just the shooty-bang thing. In Poland just sheltering Jews was as much a death sentence as shooting at German soldiers.

badger22 Inactive Member03 Nov 2017 6:42 p.m. PST

"brothers we are late"

I am with wolfhag, much rather actively resist than passively await. If enough fight back the cost becomes prohibitive. And yes it doesnt do you much good personally, but that is true of every soldier ever.


Skarper04 Nov 2017 4:07 a.m. PST

Just don't go thinking we would have done any more to resist the Nazis than most did at the time. It was a lot harder to do so than we na´vely imagine from the comfort of our armchairs today.

There is the testimony of an elderly Jewish survivor of the death camps at Eishmann's trial…

The lawyer asked him why they didn't overwhelm their guards and escape when they could so easily have done so. You can find this on youtube but basically he said, "Where could we go? Who would help us?" They were in Poland and the Poles, out of malice or mere self preservation would have turned them in to the Germans, much as the Burmese did to the few who managed to escape the Japanese railway building prison camps.

While in the camps they still might survive. Some indeed did. Few who resisted managed to.

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