Some historians of the holocaust have focused on the nature of Jewish resistance. Explain how this has contributed to our understanding of the Holocaust. Does this approach have any disadvantages or shortcomings? (30 marks)
The questions of what constituted Jewish resistance during the Holocaust and how widespread it was are challenging ones, especially as resistance is often marginalised in histories of the Holocaust. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is widely discussed, but it is often presented as an almost isolated event which is contrasted with the assumed passivity of the majority of European Jews. Recent research has shown how some Jewish people actively fought against the Nazis. Despite the propaganda of the Germans (Nazis), many Jewish people decided that they had to fight back. The Nazis hated the Jewish people. Their story is one of huge struggle that often resulted in their capture, concentration camps and death
It should first be understood just how difficult effective resistance to the Nazis was. This was true for all communities living under German rule but especially so for Jews. Not only were they confronted by an opponent with apparently overwhelming force; the starvation and exhaustion which characterised life in the ghettos of eastern Europe further limited the ability of many to resist. It is also essential to realise that Jews did not know Nazi intentions in advance. The main aim of most European Jews was therefore to hold out until the expected German defeat. In this context, many people believed that active resistance would make the situation worse by provoking reprisals against the entire community. Even after the murders began in 1941, it proved hard to absorb their implications since the idea that the Nazis aimed to kill every single Jew in Europe seemed literally unbelievable. Nonetheless, as the Holocaust developed, armed resistance increasingly emerged. For example, it is a fact that Jews fought the...