Jewish resistance under the Nazi rule took various forms of organized underground activities conducted against German occupation regimes in Europe by Jews during World War II. According to historian Yehuda Bauer, Jewish resistance was defined as actions that were taken against all laws and actions acted by Germans.The term is particularly connected with the Holocaust and includes a multitude of different social responses by those oppressed, as well as both passive and armed resistance conducted by Jews themselves.
Due to military strength of Nazi Germany and its allies, as well as the administrative system of ghettoization and the hostility of various sections of the civilian population, few Jews were able to effectively resist the Final Solution militarily. Nevertheless, there are many cases of attempts at resistance in one form or another including over a hundred armed Jewish uprisings. Historiographically, the study of Jewish resistance to German rule is considered an important aspect of the study of the Holocaust.
|Jewish resistance under the Nazi rule|
"One can distinguish three categories of Jewish resistance: first, individual French Jews in the general Resistance; secondly, specifically Jewish organizations in the general Resistance; thirdly, Resistance organizations (not necessarily comprising Jews alone) with specifically Jewish objectives."
In his book The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy, Martin Gilbert defines Jewish resistance more widely:
"In every ghetto, in every deportation train, in every labor camp, even in the death camps, the will to resist was strong, and took many forms. Fighting with the few weapons that would be found, individual acts of defiance and protest, the courage of obtaining food and water under the threat of death, the superiority of refusing to allow the Germans their final wish to gloat over panic and despair.
Even passivity was a form of resistance. To die with dignity was a form of resistance. To resist the demoralizing, brutalizing force of evil, to refuse to be reduced to the level of animals, to live through the torment, to outlive the tormentors, these too were acts of resistance. Merely to give a witness of these events in testimony was, in the end, a contribution to victory. Simply to survive was a victory of the human spirit."
This view is supported by Yehuda Bauer, who wrote that resistance to the Nazis comprised not only physical opposition, but any activity that gave the Jewish people dignity and humanity despite the humiliating and inhumane conditions. Bauer disputes the popular view that most Jews went to their deaths passively—"like sheep to the slaughter". He argues that, given the conditions in which the Jews of Eastern Europe had to live under and endure, what is surprising is not how little resistance there was, but rather how much resistance was present.
In 1940, the Warsaw ghetto was cut off from its access to Polish underground newspapers, and the only newspaper allowed to be imported into the confines of the ghetto was the General Government propaganda organ Gazeta Żydowska. As a result, from roughly May 1940 to October 1941, the Jews of the ghetto published their own underground newspapers, offering hopeful news about the war and prospects for the future. The most prominent of these were published by the Jewish Socialist party and the Zionist Labor Movement. These two groups formed an alliance but they had no arms. These papers lamented the carnage of war, but for the most part did not encourage armed resistance.
Jews mainly used unarmed resistance in Eastern Europe; for instance, young Jews smuggled food or secretly took people into the forests in Sobibór and Treblinka death camps, whereas in Western Europe, they used armed resistance. Between April and May 1943, Jewish men and women of the Warsaw Ghetto took up arms and rebelled against the Nazis after it became clear that the Germans were deporting remaining Ghetto inhabitants to the Treblinka extermination camp. Warsaw Jews of the Jewish Combat Organization and the Jewish Military Union fought the Germans with a handful of small arms and Molotov cocktails, as Polish resistance attacked from the outside in support. After fierce fighting, vastly superior German forces pacified the Warsaw Ghetto and either murdered or deported all of the remaining inhabitants to the Nazi killing centers. The Germans claimed that they lost 18 dead and 85 wounded, though this figure has been disputed, with resistance leader Marek Edelman estimating 300 German casualties. Some 13,000 Jews were killed, and 56,885 were deported to concentration camps. There are two main reasons why Jews failed to resist when they were leaving the ghettos: Nazis' powerful army and also, it was difficult for Jews to get armed resistance because they needed others' support and because they lacked the ability to get arms when they were in ghettos.
There were major resistance efforts in three of the extermination camps.
There were a number of Jewish partisan groups operating in many countries, especially Poland. The most notable of the groups is the Bielski partisans, whom the movie Defiance portrays, and the Parczew partisans in the forests near Lublin, Poland. Hundreds of Jews escaped the ghettoes and joined the Partisan resistance groups.
Belgian resistance to the treatment of Jews crystallised between August–September 1942, following the passing of legislation regarding wearing yellow badges and the start of the deportations. When deportations began, Jewish partisans destroyed records of Jews compiled by the AJB. The first organization specifically devoted to hiding Jews, the Comité de Défense des Juifs (CDJ-JVD), was formed in the summer of 1942. The CDJ, a left-wing organization, may have saved up to 4,000 children and 10,000 adults by finding them safe hiding places. It produced two Yiddish language underground newspapers, Unzer Wort ("Our Word", with a Labour-Zionist stance) and Unzer Kamf ("Our Fight", with a Communist one). The CDJ was only one of dozens of organised resistance groups that provided support to hidden Jews. Other groups and individual resistance members were responsible for finding hiding places and providing food and forged papers. Many Jews in hiding went on to join organised resistance groups. Groups from left wing backgrounds, like the Front de l'Indépendance (FI-OF), were particularly popular with Belgian Jews. The Communist-inspired Partisans Armés (PA) had a particularly large Jewish section in Brussels.
The resistance was responsible for the assassination of Robert Holzinger, the head of the deportation program, in 1942. Holzinger, an active collaborator, was an Austrian Jew selected by the Germans for the role. The assassination led to a change in leadership of the AJB. Five Jewish leaders, including the head of the AJB, were arrested and interned in Breendonk, but were released after public outcry. A sixth was deported directly to Auschwitz.
The Belgian resistance was unusually well informed on the fate of the deported Jews. In August 1942 (two months after the start of the Belgian deportations), the underground newspaper De Vrijschutter reported that "They [the deported Jews] are being killed in groups by gas, and others are killed by salvos of machinegun fire."
In early 1943, the Front de l'Indépendance sent Victor Martin, an academic economist at the Catholic University of Louvain, to gather information on the fate of deported Belgian Jews using the cover of his research post at the University of Cologne. Martin visited Auschwitz and witnessed the crematoria. Arrested by the Germans, he escaped, and was able to report his findings to the CDJ in May 1943.
Despite amounting to only 1% of the French population, Jews comprised about 15-20% of the French Resistance. Some of the Jewish resistance members were refugees from Germany, Poland and other central European states.
Although the majority of the French and foreign Jews involved in the French Resistance participated in the general Resistance movements, some Jews also set up their own armed resistance movement: the Armée Juive (Jewish Army), a Zionist organization, which at its height, numbered some 2,000 fighters. Operating throughout France, it smuggled hundreds of Jews to Spain and Switzerland, launched attacks against occupying German forces, and targeted Nazi informants and Gestapo agents. Armee Juive participated in the general French uprising of August 1944, fighting in Paris, Lyon, and Toulouse.
Jewish resistance within Germany itself during the Nazi era took a variety of forms, from sabotage and disruptions to providing intelligence to Allied forces, distributing anti-Nazi propaganda, as well as participating in attempts to assist Jewish emigration out of Nazi-controlled territories. It has been argued that, for Jews during the Holocaust, given the intent of the Nazi regime to exterminate Jews, survival itself constituted an act considered a form of resistance. Jewish participation in the German resistance was largely confined to the underground activities of left-wing Zionist groups such as Werkleute, Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim, and the German Social Democrats, Communists, and independent left-wing groups such as the New Beginning. Much of the non-left wing and non-Jewish opposition to Hitler in Germany (i.e., conservative and religious forces), although often opposed to the Nazi plans for extermination of German and European Jewry, in many instances itself harbored anti-Jewish sentiments.
A celebrated case involved the arrest and execution of Helmut Hirsch, a Jewish architectural student originally from Stuttgart, in connection with a plot to bomb Nazi Party headquarters in Nuremberg. Hirsch became involved in the Black Front, a breakaway faction from the Nazi Party led by Otto Strasser. After being captured by the Gestapo in December 1936, Hirsch confessed to planning to murder Julius Streicher, a leading Nazi official and editor of the virulently anti-Semitic Der Stürmer newspaper, on behalf of Strasser and the Black Front. Hirsch was sentenced to death on March 8, 1937, and on June 4 was beheaded with an axe.
Perhaps the most significant Jewish resistance group within Germany for which records survive was the Berlin-based Baum Group (Baum-Gruppe), which was active from 1937 to 1942. Largely young Jewish women and men, the group disseminated anti-Nazi leaflets, and organized semi-public demonstrations. Its most notable action was the bombing of an anti-Soviet exhibit organized by Joseph Goebbels in Berlin's Lustgarten. The action resulted in mass arrests, executions, and reprisals against German Jews. Because of the reprisals it provoked, the bombing led to debate within opposition circles similar to those that took place elsewhere where the Jewish resistance was active—taking action and risking murderous reprisals vs. being non-confrontational with the hopes of maximizing survival.
In the Netherlands, the only pre-war group that immediately started resistance against the German occupation was the communist party. During the first two war years, it was by far the biggest resistance organization, much bigger than all other organizations put together. A major act of resistance was the organisation of the February strike in 1941, in protest against anti-Jewish measures. In this resistance, many Jews participated. About 1,000 Dutch Jews took part in resisting the Germans, and of those, 500 perished in doing so. In 1988, a monument to their memory was unveiled by the then mayor of Amsterdam, Ed van Thijn.
Among the first Jewish resisters was the German fugitive Ernst Cahn, owner of an ice cream parlor. Together with his partner, Kohn, he had an ammonia gas cylinder installed in the parlor to stave off attacks from the militant arm of the fascist NSB, the so-called "Weerafdeling"("WA"). One day in February 1941 the German police forced their entrance into the parlor, and were gassed. Later, Cahn was caught and on March 3, 1941 he became the first civilian to be executed by a Nazi firing squad in the Netherlands.
Benny Bluhm, a boxer, organized Jewish fighting parties consisting of members of his boxing school to resist attacks. One of these brawls led to the death of a WA-member, H. Koot, and subsequently the Germans ordered the first Dutch razzia (police raid) of Jews as a reprisal. That in turn led to the Februaristaking, the February Strike. Bluhm's group was the only Jewish group resisting the Germans in the Netherlands and the first active group of resistance fighters in the Netherlands. Bluhm survived the war, and strove for a monument for the Jewish resisters that came about two years after his death in 1986.
Numerous Jews participated in resisting the Germans. The Jewish director of the assembly center in the "Hollandsche Schouwburg", a former theatre, Walter Süskind, was instrumental in smuggling children out of his centre. He was aided by his assistant Jacques van de Kar and the director of the nearby crèche, Mrs Pimentel.
Within the underground communist party, a militant group was formed: de Nederlandse Volksmilitie (NVM, Dutch Peoples Militia). The leader was Sally (Samuel) Dormits, who had military experience from guerrilla warfare in Brazil and participation in the Spanish Civil War. This organisation was formed in The Hague but became mainly located in Rotterdam. It counted about 200 mainly Jewish participants. They made several bomb attacks on German troop trains and arson attacks on cinemas, which were forbidden for Jews. Dormits was caught after stealing a handbag off a woman in order to obtain an identification card for his Jewish girlfriend, who also participated in the resistance. Dormits committed suicide in the police station by shooting himself through the head. From a cash ticket of a shop the police found the hiding place of Dormits and discovered bombs, arson material, illegal papers, reports about resistance actions and a list of participants. The Gestapo was warned immediately and that day two hundred people were arrested, followed by many more connected people in Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam. The Dutch police participated in torturing the Jewish communists. After a trial more than 20 were shot to death; most of the others died in concentration camps or were gassed in Auschwitz. Only a few survived.
The British Army trained 37 Jewish volunteers from Mandate Palestine to parachute into Europe in an attempt to organize resistance. The most famous member of this group was Hannah Szenes. She was parachuted into Yugoslavia to assist in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz. Szenes was arrested at the Hungarian border, then imprisoned and tortured, but refused to reveal details of her mission. She was eventually tried and executed by firing squad. She is regarded as a national heroine in Israel.
The British government formed in July 1944 the Jewish Brigade, which comprised more than 5,000 Jewish volunteers from Palestine, organized into three infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, and supporting units. They were attached to the British Eighth Army in Italy from November 1944, taking part to the spring 1945 "final offensive" on that front. After the end of the war in Europe the Brigade was moved to Belgium and the Netherlands in July 1945. As well as participating in combat operations against German forces, the brigade assisted and protected Holocaust survivors.
The Special Interrogation Group was a British Army commando unit comprising German-speaking Jewish volunteers from Palestine. It carried out commando and sabotage raids behind Axis lines during the Western Desert Campaign, and gathered military intelligence by stopping and questioning German transports while dressed as German military police. They also assisted other British forces. Following the disastrous failure of Operation Agreement, a series of ground and amphibious operations carried out by British, Rhodesian and New Zealand forces on German and Italian-held Tobruk in September 1942, the survivors were transferred to the Royal Pioneer Corps.
In the aftermath of the war, Holocaust survivors led by former members of Jewish resistance groups banded together. Calling themselves Nokmim (Hebrew for "avengers"), they tracked down and executed former Nazis who took part in the Holocaust. They killed an unknown number of Nazis, and their efforts are believed to have continued into the 1950s. The Nazis were often kidnapped and killed by hanging or strangulation, others were killed by hit-and-run attacks, and a former high-ranking Gestapo officer died when kerosene was injected into his bloodstream while he was in hospital awaiting an operation. It is possible that some of the most successful Nokmim were veterans of the Jewish Brigade, who had access to military intelligence, transport, and the right to freely travel across Europe.
Nokmim also travelled to places such as Latin America, Canada, and Spain to track down and kill Nazis who had settled there. In one instance, they are believed to have confronted Aleksander Laak, responsible for killing 8,500 Jews at Jägala concentration camp, at his suburban Winnipeg home, and after telling him that they intended to kill him, allowed him to commit suicide.
In 1946, the Nokmim carried out a mass poisoning attack against former SS members imprisoned at Stalag 13, lacing their bread rations with arsenic at the bakery which supplied it. Approximately 1,200 prisoners fell ill, but no deaths were reported. The U.S. Army mustered its medical resources to treat the poisoned prisoners. Nokmin responses ranged from viewing this mass assassination attempt as a failure to claiming that the Allies covered up the fact that there had been deaths.
The Armenian resistance is a name given to the military and political activities of the Armenians under the Armenian political parties of Henchak, Armenakan, Dashnaktsutiun against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, considered a struggle for freedom and resistance to the Armenian Genocide by the Armenian combatants, but high treason by the Ottoman Empire. These Armenian national organizations established Armenian fedayeen (Armenian: Ֆէտայի) generally referred to as Armenian irregular units and the Russian Empire formed Armenian volunteer units, which recruited Ottoman Armenians from behind the Ottoman lines, to help the Russian Caucasus Army against the Ottoman Empire. During this period the Siege of Van on April 20, 1915, and consequent establishment of the Administration for Western Armenia were significant events. The Ottoman Minister of Interior Mehmed Talat Pasha considered the Armenian population a fifth column within the Empire, blaming the rise of the Armenian national liberation movement for the overall unrest inside the Empire in his order on April 24, 1915 that ended with arrests in Red Sunday.
The Ottoman parliament passed the Tehcir Law on 29 May 1915, which enabled the massive deportation the Armenians from their historic homeland. These deportations and massacres resulted in the deaths of about 1,500,000 Armenians, and are referred to as the Armenian Genocide by most scholars of the period; official Turkish sources follow a denial campaign, often referring to an ″Armenian insurgency" and disputing the number of victims.Ferruccio Valobra
Ferruccio Valobra (Turin, 12 April 1898 - Turin, 22 September 1944) was an Italian partisan and antifascist.History of the Jews during World War II
The history of the Jews during World War II is almost synonymous with the Jewish persecution and murder of unprecedented scale in modern times in political Europe inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). The massive scale of the Holocaust which happened during World War II heavily affected the Jewish nation and world public opinion, which only understood the dimensions of the Final Solution after the war. The genocide, known as HaShoah in Hebrew, aimed at the elimination of the Jewish people on the European continent. It was a broadly organized operation led by Nazi Germany, in which approximately six million Jews were murdered methodically and with horrifying cruelty. During the Holocaust in occupied Poland, more than one million Jews were murdered in gas chambers of the Auschwitz concentration camp alone. The murder of the Jews of Europe affected Jewish communities in Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.Leading to World War II, nearly all Jewish firms in Nazi Germany had either collapsed under financial pressure and declining profits, or had been forced to sell out to the Nazi German government as part of the "Aryanization" policy inaugurated in 1937. As the war started, massacres of Jews took place originally as part of Operation Tannenberg against the Polish nation. The much larger and methodical mass killings of Jews began with the onset of Operation Barbarossa. Led by Einsatzkommandos and the Orpo battalions, the destruction of European Jews took place with the active participation of local Auxiliary Police including Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian Schutzmannschaften.Jewish partisans
Jewish partisans were fighters in irregular military groups participating in the Jewish resistance movement against Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II.
A number of Jewish partisan groups operated across Nazi-occupied Europe, some made up of a few escapees from the Jewish ghettos or concentration camps, while others, such as Bielski partisans, numbered in the hundreds and included women and children. They were most numerous in Eastern Europe, but groups also existed in occupied France and Belgium, where they worked with the local resistance. Many individual Jewish fighters took part in the other partisan movements in other occupied countries. In all, the Jewish partisans numbered between 20,000 and 30,000.Jewish resistance
Jewish resistance may refer to:
Jewish Resistance Movement, a Jewish underground movement in Mandate Palestine
Jewish resistance in German-occupied EuropeLack of outside support during the Warsaw Uprising
The Warsaw Uprising, in 1944 ended in the capitulation of the city and its near total destruction by the German forces. According to many historians, a major cause of this was the almost complete lack of outside support and the late arrival of the support which did arrive. The only support operation which ran continuously for the duration of the Uprising were night supply drops by long-range planes of the RAF, other Commonwealth air forces, and especially units of the Polish Air Force, which had to use distant airfields in Italy (Brindisi and others) and so had very limited effect.
The Soviets made clear their view on the situation in Warsaw to United States Ambassador, W. Averell Harriman. On 15 August 1944, Harriman received a note from Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Vyshinsky. In this note, Vyshinsky was instructed by Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov to inform Harriman that the Soviet Government "could not go along" with US plans to airdrop arms to resistance groups in Warsaw and that the "action in Warsaw into which the Warsaw populations had been drawn was a purely adventuristic affair and the Soviet Government could not lend its hand to it." Vyshinsky's note concluded that Stalin had pointed out to Churchill on 5 August that one could not imagine how a few Polish detachments of the so-called National Army possessing neither tanks, artillery, or aviation could "take" Warsaw when the Nazis had four tank divisions at their disposal for the defense of the city.Regardless of Stalin's political intentions, there could be alternate logistic reasons why the Soviet forces could not provide aid to Warsaw. One alternate explanation which has been given for the lack of early support is that the uprising began too early and the nearby Soviet forces could not fight their road to the city to support. Before and at the time of uprising, the German army started a massive Panzer force counterattack near Warsaw.Another alternative explanation is that the Red Army was simply exhausted and hence unable to extend effective support to the Uprising. In support of this thesis, it is often claimed (mostly by Soviet sources) that since the opening of Operation Bagration many Red Army units had covered several hundred miles in a far-ranging offensive, and their advance elements were at the very end of their logistical tether. This, coupled with the presence of several Panzer divisions from the Waffen-SS and the Wehrmacht around Warsaw which administered a sharp reverse to the Soviet 2nd Tank Army in the final days of July, was, according to this view, sufficient to stop the Red Army in its tracks on the Warsaw front. However, it must be kept in mind that the units which reached Warsaw in late July 1944 were not part of Bagration, but instead advanced from Western Ukraine as part of the Lublin-Brest Operation, covering a much smaller distance. Those units were in fact able to operate quite effectively against German forces to the south and north of Warsaw during August and September, successfully securing bridgeheads over the Vistula and Narew rivers in those sectors. Given that Soviet success, the apparent inactivity on the most direct route of approach towards Warsaw, through the suburb of Praga, lasting through August and the first half of September, is to say the least puzzling. Furthermore, once the Soviet forces seized Praga in mid-September 1944, only poorly supported units of the inexperienced 1st Polish Army were assigned to attempt the crossing of the river Vistula to aid the insurgents. Those crossings failed to establish a durable foothold on the left bank of the river, and caused considerable casualties among the Polish units involved. It is an open question whether an earlier Soviet effort using more experienced units with adequate support would have been able to reach and cross the Vistula in the Warsaw sector, and provide timely and effective support to the Polish units fighting in the main part of the city. The continued difficulty in accessing the Soviet documents of the time presently located in the Russian archives makes it difficult for historians to answer this question with any degree of certainty.Nazi gun control argument
The Nazi gun control argument is a refuted claim that gun regulations in the Third Reich helped to facilitate the rise of the Nazis and the Holocaust. Historians and fact-checkers have described the argument as "dubious," "questionable," "preposterous," "tendentious," or "problematic."This argument is seldom used outside U.S. gun politics. Questions about its validity, and about the motives behind its inception, have been raised by scholars. Proponents in the United States have used it as part of a "security against tyranny" argument, while opponents have referred to it as a form of Reductio ad Hitlerum.