How did Jews respond?

Bielski women.jpg
A post-war portrait of two female Bielski partisans who carried weapons during the war
© 2011 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Many people ask: ‘Why did the Jews of Europe not resist the antisemitic and inhumane policies of Nazi Germany and her collaborators?’

There are many answers to this question. For example:

In Nazi Germany the steps toward the events that we now call the Holocaust evolved over the years and involved many stages. Many people did not believe until it was very late that the Nazis would act in the the way they did. As the Nazis marched into other lands they acted against the local Jewish populations with speed, force and brutality, often supported by local collaborators. Jews in these countries often had very little opportunity to escape the Nazi hatred.

The Jewish population in Germany was a very small minority of the total population; how could they successfully oppose or fight back against the size and depth of the Nazi machine? Furthermore, how could this minority oppose the Nazis when the world largely stood by and watched?

However, Jews did resist; they did fight back. In fact, there is much evidence that large numbers of brave Jews resisted the Nazis in many different ways.

In this section of the site you will be able to read, see and hear about many brave examples of unarmed and armed resistance carried out by individuals and groups across occupied Europe, and in the ghettos and Nazi camps.