Jewish Resistance To The Holocaust Essay

1792 words - 7 pages

Examining any issue pertaining to the Holocaust is accompanied with complexity and the possibility of controversy. This is especially true in dealing with the topic of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust. Historians are often divided on this complex issue, debating issues such as how “resistance” is defined and, in accordance with that definition, how much resistance occurred. According to Michael Marrus, “the very term Jewish resistance suggests a point of view.” Many factors, both internal such as differences in opinion on when or what resistance was appropriate, as well as external, such as the lack of arms with which to revolt, contributed to making resistance, particularly armed resistance, extremely difficult. When considering acts of Jewish resistance, it is important to consider both direct and indirect forms of resistance, as well as avoid diminishing what efforts were made at resistance. Despite many factors making resistance difficult, Jews did perform both direct and indirect resistance, often more than historians have credited to them. As a whole, Jews did not accept their death mutely, as sheep to the slaughter.
Countless internal factors made Jewish resistance extremely difficult. The most explicit of these were the horrific conditions of the ghettos and concentration camps, which lead to malnourishment, as well as the large amounts of hard labour that was forced upon inmates, which caused a general state of poor health. When the living situation grew even worse with the quickly increasing death rates in the concentration camps between 1940 and 1942, conditions were so poor that survival was the sole focus of inmates; there was no time to think of resistance. As the Jews began to become aware of their imminent extermination, they began to develop plans for armed resistance. One of the main factors hindering the occurrence of armed resistance was the fact that the Jews planned to hold off armed resistance until it was the only option to avoid their own deaths, until there was no hope for survival. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to gauge when this point would come; the Germans were inconsistent in when they carried out the executions, as some were killed immediately and others were kept alive for a time. Understandably, many Jews inaccurately predicted the time before their imminent deaths and therefore missed their chance at resistance.
In addition to the living conditions in the ghettos and camps, many differences in opinion led to hesitance to engage in resistance, particularly armed resistance. There was a great deal of collective responsibility involved with resistance- some believed that to act out was to endanger everyone in the group. Unfortunately, these worries were often founded in truth. In one instance, when a man protested the death of his brother by calling the SS member a murder, he was removed to prison, where he passed away; all of the other members of his group, who had witnessed the incident, were killed...

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