Essay on Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust

Essay on Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust

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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 ext...

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... Niewyk,
129-145. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992.

Hilberg, Raul. “Two Thousand Years of Jewish Appeasement.” In The Holocaust, edited by Donald L. Niewyk, 114-120. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992.
Krakowski, Shmuel. “The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.” In The Holocaust, edited by Donald L. Niewyk, 145-159. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company, 1992.
Marrus, Michael R. “Jewish Resistance.” In The Holocaust in History, 133-155. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Limited, 1987.
Marrus, Michael R. “Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust.” Journal of Contemporary History 30, no.1 (1995): 83-110.
Pingel, Falk. “Resistance and Resignation in Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camps.” Translated by J. Sondheimer. In The Policies of Genocide, edited by Gerhard Hirschfeld, 30-72. London: German Historical Institute, 1986.

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