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Jewish Resistance To The Nzi Holocaust

1218 words - 5 pages

Despite all of these internal and external factors contributing to a lack of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust, there was resistance in existence in many forms; the resistance that did occur must not be diminished or overlooked. When considering the definition of “resistance”, historians divide themselves on what this entails; some believe it to be only active, armed resistance attempts, while others define it more liberally. According to Yehuda Bauer, resistance entails “any group action consciously taken in opposition to known or surmised laws, actions, or intentions directed against the Jews by the Germans and their supporters.” Considering resistance with a broad definition such as this ensures that the efforts made at resistance are recognized, and avoids insulting or offending the Jews. It is also important to consider the fact that resistance evolved greatly throughout the Holocaust. In taking this more generous view on the issue, it becomes clear that there were actually a substantial number of incidences of resistance.
The less obvious, yet not necessarily less important, instances of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust were those that were non-violent and indirect in nature. These instances of non-armed resistance generally occurred before the executions began to increase rapidly. Some instances of non-violent resistance were symbolic in nature, and occurred before the Jews began to be removed to concentration camps. These were mostly public gestures, in which the Jews demonstrated that they were aware that their living situations were vastly different and prejudiced, and that they would not allow the Nazis to crush their spirits; this type of resistance was not an extremely dangerous form, but did sometimes run risks. The Jews sometimes went a step further in this style of resistance by organizing, participating in, and encouraging others to participate in protests against the Nazi regime. This symbolic form of resistance is placed within Bauer’s definition of resistance in that it entailed group demonstrations and protests actively opposed to the Nazi regime.
Non-violent resistance began to evolve as the Jews were transported to the concentration camps. Upon their initial arrival in the concentration camps, inmates attempted to aid each other in various ways, such as by giving those that were extremely malnourished extra food or attempting to lessen the workload on those that were weaker by taking their place; these acts, although not aimed directly against the SS, were simply keeping one another alive. These acts can be considered under Bauer’s definition of resistance in that the groups’ motives in sustaining themselves as a whole was in direct opposition to the central idea of the SS to break down and destroy the Jewish population. These acts also helped lead to the later active, armed resistance in that they helped to keep inmates alive and maintain their strength, as well as providing them with a will to resist.
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