Jewish resistance throughout the holocaust has caused much debate among academics historians, and even governments. Historians conclude that resistance was practical and morally constrained throughout the Second World War, for a variety of reasons. Historians such as Rab Bennett, Michael Marrus, Richard L Rubenstein, and John K Roth all have written in detail about the constraints placed upon Jewish resistance throughout this period. Each of these explanations will be examined throughout this paper. Furthermore, this paper will discuss examples of Jewish resistance during the holocaust, while applying the theories of each historian to explain in detail about the morale and practical constraints within Jewish resistance. Three main theories have been put forward to establish and explain how Jewish resistance was so constrained. Firstly, the Nazi army was attacking an unprepared and unarmed population, who were taken by complete surprise during the Holocaust. Secondly, the Nazi army used brutal and cruel warfare methods upon the Jewish population to fully implement the holocaust. Finally Jewish resistance was met by such massive repercussions by the Nazi army, which ultimately created fear among each community to obey the rule of Nazi government.
The Nazi government secured a total fascist state in 1934 and had implemented the “final solution” in 1940. The “final solution” was to systematically destroy the European Jewish population with unspeakable horrors, which included gassing, executions, malnutrition, and grotesque medical experiments. Despite these conditions, Jews in both concentration camps and in the ghettoes tried to resist the Nazi army. However, explained by historian Rab Bennett the Nazi army had practically constrained Jewish resistance through a policy called “collective responsibility”. The aim of this policy was to create a sense of insecurity among the European Jewish population. For example the Nazi army had started to deport Jews in Vilna to a nearby concentration camp. Some Jews escaped and joined a resistance movement in a neighboring village. What happened next was typical of the policy called “collective responsibility”. The Jewish resistance group obtained a few weapons, and clashed with the Nazi army outside the city. Most of the Jews were immediately captured and killed instantly. In retaliation for the resistance, the local arm...
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...hroughout Europe and many Jewish people fought unarmed against Nazi genocide. The Jewish population faced an enemy that practiced total warfare against them. The Nazi army was able to efficiently wipe out more than six million Jewish people, while practically and morally constraining Jewish resistance throughout the Second World War.
Rab Bennett, Under the Shadow of the Swastika: The Moral Dilemmas of Resistance and Collaboration in Hitler's Europe, New York University Press. 1999.
Frank McDonough, Opposition and Resistance in Nazi Germany: 1933-1945, Cambridge University Press
Michael R. Marrus, The Holocaust in History, Key Porter Books Ltd. 2000
Randall C. Byterk, Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic. Michigan State University Press. 2004
Author Unknown, Map taken from Google Website, www.googleimages.co.uk
The Holocaust History Project Homepage: www.holocaust-history.org/
Holocaust Timeline: Resistance: fcit.coedu.usf.edu/holocaust/timeline/resist.htm -
Holocaust Understanding- Jewish Resistance by A. Kimel: www.kimel.net/resistance.html
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