In Nazi Occupied Eastern Europe, the Jewish Reaction to the Final Solution Varied

In Nazi Occupied Eastern Europe, the Jewish Reaction to the Final Solution Varied

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In Nazi Occupied Eastern Europe, the Jewish Reaction to the Final Solution Varied


The common belief of the reaction of the Jews to the final solution is
that they did nothing. Many believed that they went like 'sheep to the
slaughter'. However only recently has evidence come to light through
documents hidden, found then translated from Russian, Polish and other
languages. Also only recently survivors are coming forward and
recollecting their experiences. Now it is therefore coming to light
that many resisted in many different ways.

The Jews resisted in various ways, one of which was passive
resistance. One forms of passive resistance was survival. Survival was
a form of resistance because it went against the Nazis aim, which was
to exterminate the Jews. Examples of the effort of survival were seen
in ghettos where food smuggling operations were carried out and also
various activities, which supported the will to live and try to add
some 'normality' to life. Also another example of the will to preserve
life was the Jewish Self Help association, which organised street
collections and soup kitchens. The reason for the will to survive is
that they believed that they were going to be resettled in the East
rather than sent to their death. However if the Jews knew that they
were going to be executed many would have lost the will to live, but
some it would of given them more determination to resist the Nazis by
force, which became apparent around 1942. However the passive
resistance and defiance through survival raised morale, due to the
fact that they were snubbing and defying the third Reich, which was
one of the strongest armies the world has ever seen. Examples of
surviving were also seen in the actual death camps where tact and
initiative were used to avoid the gas chambers in which Samuel Pisar
who was a prisoner a Auschwitz was in the line for entering the gas
chambers at which point he saw a pail of water & a brush, he then got
them & started scrubbing the floor, until he got out the door he then

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lost himself in the camp.

However another controversial form of reaction is co-operation with
the Nazis. The main two groups that co-operated with the Nazis were
the Sonderkommando and the Judenrat. The Judenrat was the council of
Jews appointed by the Nazis in each Jewish community of ghetto. They
were led by the community leaders and had the responsibility of
ensuring that all laws affecting the Jewish population were obeyed in
the ghetto. This put the Judenrat in a difficult position. Many
question the fact that they helped the Nazis. However without doubt, a
refusal to co-operate would have resulted in a worsening of the
already appalling conditions in the ghettos or death for the Judenrat
members. Also two Judenrat members Mordechai Rumkowski in Lodz and
Jakob Gens in Vilna both justified the sacrifice of some Jews in order
to save others. This means that they purposefully picked the sick and
weak who were certainly going to die rather than the stronger and
fitter who had more chance of life, yet still many groups question the
acts of the Judenrat.

Another group that co-operated with the Nazis is the Sonderkommando.
The sonderkommando were Jews who were used as slave labour in the
death camps who were given the ghastly job of getting rid of the dead
bodies & basically jobs in the extermination process. However some may
not accept or forgive them for helping the Nazis but under the idea of
collective responsibility if they would of refused to help the Nazis
all of the Jews in that area would have been punished. However the
Sonderkommando did resist the Nazis by leaving incriminating evidence
eg, leaving notes in the mass graves when they buried the Jewish
corpses, in the hope that when the mass graves were found that the
outside world will know what happened and that the experience of the
hell they had to endure would not be lost, which was what the Nazis
wanted, for the Jews just to have disappeared without anyone knowing
what happened to them.

Now I am going to discuss the Jews that resisted by force in the death
camps and in the ghettos. One example of amazing courageousness and
bravery was seen in the Warsaw ghetto in which 700 young Jews defied
an SS armoured brigade for a month. Also there was an example of
resistance in which Sondenkommando blew up a crematorium in Auschwitz
which would of delayed the 'production line' of the extermination of
Jews and possibly saved some of Jewish lives.

Then there is the subject which many find hard to understand was why
did some Jews offer no resistance. The three main reasons for the Jews
offering no resistance are disbelief, deception and dehumanisation.
They disbelieved that Germany; a civilised country could do such a
thing as mass genocide, also even if they could believe that gassing
of Jews was happening, as most people think, it couldn't happen to
them. Proof of this can be seen by an account of Eva Schloss who said
that when they came off the cattle trucks at Auschwitz she said that
woman were going around telling them pointing at the smoke from the
crematorium saying "That's going to be you" but they did not believe
the woman. So it isn't surprising that they could not believe that
mass genocide was happening in the ghettos if some could not believe
it when they were in Auschwitz. Also the Nazis went to great lengths
to deceive the Jews. Firstly when they were being taken in the cattle
trucks to the death camps they said that they were going to be
relocated in the east, they even told them to take pots & household
items. This was to deceive the Jews in to thinking that they were
actually be relocated otherwise why would they ask them to take their
household items? Also the main evidence for the Nazis effort to
deceive the Jews was the fact that they made the gas chambers into
shower rooms, also just before they were going to be 'deloused' they
tried to stress to them not to forget the peg number that there
clothes were hang on.

Also one of the reasons that the Jews offered no resistance was
dehumanisation. The Nazis dehumanised Jews by shaving their hair,
stripping them naked, taking there clothes away from them & also gave
them a number rather than calling them by their name they were just a
'number'. The reason the Nazis dehumanised Jews was to lower their
morale and take away their individuality by giving them a number, this
was to minimise resistance. The whole idea of dehumanisation can be
summed up in 1 statement, 'One literally became a number: dead or
alive- that was unimportant; the life of an 'number' was completely
irrelevant' Victor E Frankl That was the idea behind dehumanisation,
it helped the nazis deal with what they were doing they were just
'freeing up a number' and it minimised resistance the Jews were 'just
a number'

The fact that Many Jews reacted different can be explained easily,
people are different. It's not surprising people reacted different
because people react different to different situations, despite what
the Nazis tried to achieve, the Jews were all individuals. When put up
to the horrors that Jews were put up to during the reign of the Third
Reich some resisted some didn't that's just how Humans vary, they did
not go to the gas chambers like 'sheep to the slaughter' they went
like human beings who were subjected to the most horrific experience
that many will hopefully never happen again.
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