Resistance in Holocaust

Resistance as described in dictionary is:

  • – the act or an instance of resisting or the capacity to resist.
  • – a force that tends to oppose or retard motion.
  • – often Resistance is an underground organization engaged in a struggle for national liberation in a country under military or totalitarian occupation
  • – etc.

I fully agree with Rita Steinhardt Botwinick’s debate about the resistance in “A History of the Holocaust – From Ideology To Annihilation” Ch 10 para 2:
“In the context of Jewish Opposition to the Nazis, the term resistance requires some definition. Does the word refer only to organized combat, such as military action or does it include individual assaults against the Germans? Is the use of weapons required or is nonviolent opposition rightfully classified as resistance? Is it appropriate, as has been suggested, that survival itself was a form of resistance, because the Nazis sought the death of EVERY Jew? Surely, the Jewish men and women who fought as members of partisan organizations were resisters. How should one characterize the workers in ghettos and in slave labor camps who sabotaged the economic enterprises of the Nazis by producing flawed goods? What of the Jewish writers who risked their lives to publish forbidden newspapers and teachers who secretly defied the Gestapo when they secretly instructed their students? The illegal smuggling of food delayed the total collapse of ghetto life and was frequently carried out by children. Did they not offer resistance? The historian Emanuel Ringelblum and others collected and preserved information on the fate of ghetto Jews in defiance of orders. Art and music, as well as poetry, expressed opposition to the Nazis in the ghettos and camps. Clearly, resistance had many forms, and it is necessary to establish its definition as used in this text.”

So in that context there were various forms of resistance and examples for each case:

  1. Ghettoes and underground fighters – Leaving the ghetto for the woods / Joseph Harmatz
  2. Resistance in camps – rebellion in an extermination camps Treblinka, Auschwitz and others, marvelous story about Rudolf Vrba and his escape from Auschwitz
  3. Border crossing – Jumping from the Train on the Way from Belgium to Auschwitz in Belgium in April 26, 1943. in midnight.
  4. Fighting in the forests and from the forests was the spearhead of the Jewish resistance against the Nazi murderers. – Disbanding the Partisan Units at the end of the Fighting in the Forests / Reuven Leonid.
  5. Hiding – Growing up in Hiding / Anne Frank
  6. Spiritual resistance – The Song of the Murdered Jewish People, Poland
  7. False identity – Lena Kichler-Zilberman, Poland
  8. After the Holocaust – Ka-Tzetnik: He survived Auschwitz in order to tell the world

In a Present Past

Resistance in camps
Story about Rudolf Vrba, an inmate in Auschwitz, was very interesting. He was interviewed in Shoah, and I noticed that his storytelling was sort of detached. I think that he learned that attitude, because he spent exceedingly long time in the camp. It was from June 1942 till his escape April 1944. He calculated 1,750,000 Jews were killed in Auschwitz during his stay, and that number was often disputed. He survived thanks to his youth and physical stamina, assigned jobs in Auschwitz gave him opportunity to access extra supplies and food. After information from Kapo that 1 million Jews from Hungary will come to the camp, he escaped with Alfréd Wetzler, whom he knew from Trnava. That information was crucial. He understood that he has to escape and try to inform alive Jewish government in exile about real nature of Auschwitz camp.

Obviously, this subject of resistance is very wide.
I would like to conclude with this last one – after the Holocaust
Survivors of the Holocaust, their successors, we, and all the future generations should be part of resistance to Holocaust.
The purpose of telling the stories, retelling them and keeping those in memory, learning about these events, trying to understand – because perpetrators were humans like each of us, is also a form of resistance. Because, man doesn’t have two hearts. We do not have one heart – one for love and another for hatred. Trying to depict resistance and all these events regarding Holocaust can help us to explain mechanisms that led to it. My mission would be to try to explain to all those who don’t know.