Black and white photo of Jewish Lithuanian partisans
Jewish Lithuanian partisans, July 1944 – Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.

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 will include a series of events designed to amplify themes in the exhibition. 

  • An online event to celebrate The Wiener Holocaust Library’s new exhibition, ‘Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust’ with Professor Samuel Kassow, Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger, Dr Toby Simpson and Dr Barbara Warnock. 5 August 2020.
  • A Virtual Event: The Communist resistance group in Theresienstadt. Dr Anna Hájková. 9 September 2020.
  • From the Ghetto Underground to a Partisan Warfare: Jewish Resistance in The Second World War. Daniela Ozacky Stern. 17 September 2020.
  • A Virtual Talk: The Face of Jewish Vengeance? Problems of Portraying Jewish Resistance in Holocaust Cinema. Professor Barry Langford. 13 October 2020.
  • A Virtual Talk: Understanding Rescue: Insights from the Diary of Arnold Douwe. Professor Bob Moore. 28 October 2020.
  • Virtual Book Launch: Paper Bullets: Two Artists who Risked Their Lives to Defy the Nazis. Professor Jeffrey Jackson. 24 November 2020.
  • A Virtual Talk: The Resistance in Colour: Resisters from the colonies in France, 1940-44. Dr Ludivine Broch. 8 December 2020.
  • A Virtual Talk: Defiance and Protest. Forgotten Individual Jewish Resistance in Nazi Germany. Professor Wolf Gruner. 12 January 2021.

Press Coverage

We have been delighted to receive the following press coverage for this exhibition: