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Image: Art by Lina Chai, Tesla STEM High School, Redmond. One of the winners of the 2019 Holocaust Writing, Art, and Film Contest. Lina's artwork was inspired by the story of local Holocaust survivor Carla Peperzak. 

Why didn’t more Jews fight back?  

“The statement that Jews did not fight back against the Germans and their allies is false. Jews carried out acts of resistance in every German-occupied country and in the territory of Germany’s Axis partners. Against impossible odds, they resisted in ghettos, concentration camps, and killing centers. There were many factors that made resistance difficult, however, including a lack of weapons and resources, deception, fear, and the overwhelming power of the Germans and their collaborators.”  (USHMM “Responses to Some Difficult Questions”)

Discussion about resistance during the Holocaust centers around spiritual and cultural resistance, on one hand, and partisans and armed resistance on the other.  Here is a variety of lessons and readings to help illustrate these concepts.

Jewish Resistance - Article

Nazi-sponsored persecution and mass murder fueled resistance to the Germans in the Third Reich itself and throughout occupied Europe. Although Jews were the Nazis' primary victims, they too resisted Nazi oppression in a variety of ways, both collectively and as individuals. From the USHMM. Read Article. 

Jewish Resistance - Lesson

Students learn about the risks of resisting Nazi domination and the means, scope, and intensity of resistance efforts. These ranged from cultural and spiritual resistance in the ghettos to armed resistance of partisans and ghetto and camp prisoners. At their core, these forms of resistance are expressions of the capacity to preserve what is best in humanity in the face of the worst humanity has to offer. This unit also provides an opportunity for students to consider the role of personal and cultural identity in their lives. Created by Echoes and Reflections.  Go to lessons. 


Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation

JPEF is dedicated to providing materials to teach students about Jewish armed resistance during the Holocaust. Two excellent lessons:


Defiant Requiem

“Defiant Requiem” is a remarkable film that centers on spiritual resistance in the form of performances of Verdi’s Requiem at the Terezin concentration camp in Prague.  There are excellent lessons associated with the film and issues of resistance and propaganda at Terezin found here.