During the Holocaust, Jewish partisan groups and underground resistance networks launched attacks, sabotage operations and rescue missions. Resistance groups in ghettos organised social, religious, cultural and educational activities and armed uprisings in defiance of their oppressors. In death camps, in the most extreme circumstances, resisters gathered evidence of Nazi atrocities and even mounted armed rebellions.
The Wiener Holocaust Library’s new exhibition draws upon the Library’s unique archival collections to tell the story of the Jewish men and women who, as the Holocaust unfolded around them and at great risk to themselves, resisted the Nazis and their collaborators.
In this exhibition, The Wiener Holocaust Library reveals stories of incredible endurance and bravery, including that of Tosia Altman in German-occupied Poland, who moved in and out of ghettos distributing information and organising armed revolt; the Jewish slave workers at Auschwitz who worked secretly to smuggle evidence out of the death camp, and the Bielski brothers in the forests of Belorussia whose partisan groups rescued 1200 men, women and children.
The exhibition also explores individual acts of resistance: the maintenance of secret diaries by Ruth Wiener in a concentration camp and Anne Frank in hiding in Amsterdam; the clandestine religious worship practiced in ghettos, and the testimonies buried in Auschwitz by victims of Nazi persecution.
During the Holocaust Jews resisted whenever they had the opportunity, in dangerous and even impossible circumstances.
The Wiener Holocaust Library’s Senior Curator and Head of Education, Dr Barbara Warnock, shares an exclusive insight into the exhibition in this short video:
Jewish Resistance Event Series
The exhibition run included a series of events designed to amplify themes in the exhibition and which are all available to watch back on the Library’s YouTube channel.
An online event to celebrate The Wiener Holocaust Library’s new exhibition on Jewish Resistance
On Wednesday 5 August, distinguished Professor of History Samuel Kassow spoke at an online event to celebrate our new exhibition, ‘Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust’, along with Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger, Dr Toby Simpson, Director of The Wiener Holocaust Library, and the exhibition’s curator, Dr Barbara Warnock.
A Virtual Event: The Communist resistance group in Theresienstadt
In this talk, Dr Anna Hájková showed how being a Communist shaped the experience of some Holocaust victims, how should we conceptualize the Communist group as resistance, and the relationship of the underground Communist Party in occupied Czech countries to their deported Jewish comrades.
Virtual Talk: From the Ghetto Underground to a Partisan Warfare: Jewish Resistance in The Second World War
On 17 September 2020 we were joined by Dr Daniela Ozacky Stern who spoke about how Jewish resistance in the ghettos was not void of internal political rivals, and other challenges faced by Jewish partisans including relations with their Soviet comrades, the local population as well as the Nazis, and sometimes harsh difficulties among their own people.
Virtual Talk: The Face of Jewish Vengeance? Problems of Portraying Jewish Resistance in Holocaust Cinema.
In this event Professor Barry Langford spoke about the Holocaust challenges to the prevailing narrative paradigms of mainstream cinema. He used representations of Jewish resistance as an example to show how an emphasis on armed and military resistance excludes depictions of other, more widespread and arguably more significant practices of resistance.
Virtual Talk: Understanding Rescue: Insights from the Diary of Arnold Douwe
In this talk, Professor Moore explored the insights that the remarkable diary of Arnold Douwes provides about efforts to rescue and hide Jews in the Netherlands. Douwes was the leader of a rescue network in Nieuwlande in the province of Drenthe. For fifteen months, he had sole responsibility for Jews and others in hiding and added substantially to their number through a philosophy of never turning any genuine fugitives away.
Virtual Book Launch: Paper Bullets: Two Artists who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis
In this event Professor Jackson discussed and read selections from his new book ‘Paper Bullets’, which tells the true story of an audacious anti-Nazi campaign undertaken by an unlikely pair of French women, Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe, who used their skills as Parisian avant-garde artists to demoralize German troops occupying their adopted home on the British Channel Island of Jersey.
Virtual Talk: The Resistance in Colour: Resisters from the Colonies in France, 1940-44
In this talk, Dr Ludivine Broch shared the stories of non-white resisters from the colonies in mainland France during the Second World War. Originally, the image of the French resister was that of a white male, but historians have done much to reveal the social, gendered and political diversity of the people who participated in the French resistance.
Virtual Talk: Defiance and Protest. Forgotten Individual Jewish Resistance in Nazi Germany
Jewish resistance during the Holocaust is commonly understood as rare armed group activities in the Nazi-occupied East, for example, ghetto uprisings or partisan activities. By contrast, this talk by Professor Wolf Gruner focuses on forgotten individual acts of resistance to demonstrate how Jewish women and men performed countless acts of resistance in Nazi Germany proper between 1933 and 1945
We have been delighted to receive the following press coverage for this exhibition:
- The Guardian Untold stories of Jewish resistance revealed in London Holocaust exhibition (02.08.20)
- Oxford Human Rights Blog Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust – New exhibition by The Wiener Holocaust Library (02.08.20)
- Smithsonian Magazine The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust (06.08.20)
- The Jewish Chronicle Pictures of resistance (07.08.20)
- Jewish News The unknown heroes (20.08.20)
- Memoria A new exhibition at The Wiener Holocaust Library, London (August issue)
- Etz Chaim Synagogue, Leeds How courageous Jews caught in the Holocaust resisted the Nazis (September Issue)
- Süddeutsche Zeitung Sei stolz auf deine Mutter! (02.09.20)
- Museum Crush The Wiener Library on Jewish resistance to the Holocaust (11.09.20)
- UCL Pi Media Exhibition Review: Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust at Wiener Holocaust Library (25.09.20)
- Tablet Magazine Recognizing Jewish Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust (09.10.20)
- Dagen Jødisk kamp mot jødeutryddelsene (28.10.20)
- Aish.com Resisting the Nazis: Unknown Stories (05.12.20)
- Times of Israel Modern Maccabees: UK exhibit highlights Jews’ overlooked resistance to the Nazis (07.12.20)