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Lecture 8

HI364 Lecture 8: HI364 Lesson 8 The Victims

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Eva Plach

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HI364 Lesson 8: The Victims Stages in Jews’ Understanding of & Reaction to Nazi Policies 1933 • Panic • Emigration peak 1933-38 • Adaptation • Anxiety • Will this be temporary? 1938-39 • Dire situation • Is disaster imminent? September 1939 • Shock • Options • Eastern Europe vs. Western Europe 1940-41 • Nazi expansion • Jews beleaguered • “Hold on and hold out” strategy 1942-44 • Extermination • It is clear that there are so few options The Options of the Trapped Emigrate • Key • Cut off by Nazis fall 1941 • Shut borders, Jews not allowed to leave • Important signal showing where Nazis are in terms of Jewish policy Hide/rescue • Options have shrunk so noticeably Compliance & Perseverance Experience in the Diaspora • Every experience for Jewish communities in Europe for centuries has been to comply and to work with the existing authorities in order to come to some sort of mutually beneficial arrangement • Jews often found protection and stability through good relationships with the administrations o This is how things work in the Diaspora Judenrate • Key component of the compliance strategy • Comprised often of pre-war elites o Quite personally themselves familiar with the strategy of working with authorities • Need to be aware of the unique status that any Judenrate has o Judenrate is forced into this position and is really powerless to exercise any of its own authority – it does what the Nazis want to do • Controversial – some argue that it could have/should have done more and should have known what was happening Relief work, self-help activities • Others say that Judenrate did a lot – compliance saved many lives • Relief work, self-help activities, soup kitchen, did whatever it could to fill in the gap left by Nazi policies o This is crucial o I.e. 100,000 people died in Warsaw ghetto from malnutrition, disease, violence, etc. o BUT estimates suggest that 100,000 people were also saved for a good period of time in the Warsaw ghetto because of the assistance they received by various Judenrate self-help activities Discouraged armed resistance • Judenrate discourages armed resistance of any kind – doesn’t support any efforts within ghettos for inhabitants to rise up against Nazis Exceptions… I.e. Judenrate of Minsk Ghetto (Belarus) “Ghetto means death! Out of the ghetto!” • Clear early on 1941 at establishment that staying in the ghetto meant death • Clear because there the Nazis used an aggressive policy of shooting people in the ghetto, etc. that wasn’t happening in the GG ghettos • Clarity in terms of what was happening because they were experiencing a different kind of treatment • Aim for inhabitants of the Minsk ghetto (including policy of Judenrate) was to try to get Jews out of the ghetto • Compliance wasn’t practiced in the Minsk ghetto – focus was on escape • In Minsk ghetto it was different (physically, structurally) – more porous (surrounded by barbed wire rather than brick walls) – easier/more possible to try to get out o No guards stationed everywhere around the ghetto o More opportunities to escape there o In part because of where Minsk is located – deep enough inside the Soviet Union that Nazi resources there were stretched • Judenrate worked closely with a Communist underground in the Minsk ghetto – cooperated together on a strategy of getting out of the ghetto • Getting out meant getting into the forest and joining up with Soviet partisans who operated extensively in this part of Eastern Europe – there was somewhere to go • At the same time, we have to understand how unique Minsk was • March 1942 Nazis tell Judenrate of Minsk ghetto that they need to give 5,000 people for deportation o Judenrate says no o Nazis immediately kill 3500 children in the ghetto – shoot them as a reprisal against Judenrate’s decision not to cooperate • Need to remember what Nazi reprisal policy is and that it’s fierce and brutal Jewish Leaders Failed Jews? Israel • Idea common in Israel Hannah Arendt • Attended Eichmann trial • Judenrate is complicit in what happens to the Jews of Europe Raul Hilberg • Judenrate is compliant – very critical of Judenrate • Underneath this is why did the Jews comply? Why didn’t they just revolt? • Dominant position in early 1960s “Like sheep to the slaughter”? • Dominant question was that why did Jews go to the death camps like “sheep to the slaughter” • Jews were depicted (their failings) in the Holocaust like this Resistance Definition • Broad category of anything that Jews did to resist the Nazis and to resist Nazi aims and goals • Undermining them, killing them Why (armed) resistance limited? • Tangible reasons • Jews were isolated (legislatively, physically, etc.) • Lacked weaponry, money, hiding options, help Anti-Semitism • Who could a Jewish person trust? • Who could a Jewish person turn to for assistance? Hans Frank • Governor of GG • Decree fall 1941 • Reiterated that Jews can’t leave ghettos of GG and will be shot on the spot • Also included there a provision that said that anybody (any ethnic Pole) found assisting a Jew could also be shot on the spot • Consequences of helping are enormous Escapees back to ghetto • Many cases/stories of people who end up escaping from the ghettos • They go back to the ghettos • They feel that they have better chances inside of the ghettos Reprisals • Many time escaping was condemning one’s family members/friends/coworkers in the ghetto to death/punishment • Was this a risk worth taking? Judenrate policies • Came down hard on those who wanted to resist or escape • Understood that the consequences of resistance or escape would be reprisal against wider community Lack of Jewish unity • Ideological, religious, etc. divisions • Communist Jews in Minsk were keen to cooperate with Soviet partisans • Conservative religious Jews and Zionists who hate Communists and refuse to cooperate with them • Coming up with strategies for resistance was difficult What was happening, anyway? • People’s own understanding of what was happening while it was happening was difficult • It was hard to even fully understand death camps and gas chambers • It was inconceivable to fully appreciate what that meant • Disbelief that it could all in fact be true Types of Resistance Defensive resistance • I aid and protect • Judenrate in this category • Can criticize the Judenrate, but they had as their main policy this desire to aid and protect their population • Extremely difficult circumstances and limited options Symbolic resistance • Remaining who I am • Maintaining aggressive dignity • Maintaining culture, language, religion, practices • All of that goes with remaining Jewish • Showing the Nazis that being Jewish can’t be destroyed as a result of these policies Offensive resistance • I fight to the death • Armed resistance • Big or small – most uprisings are small Polemic resistance • I document, I record, I tell the truth • I find ways to save things for the future, knowing that this material will be important to people in the future who will want to know what happened in this period • People need to know what happened Jewish Armed Resistance Jews in anti-Fascist armies around the world • 10% of the world’s Jewish population (1.5 million people) fought in different armies against the Nazis in WWII o Most in the Red Army • Conscious Jewish resistance? • Britain (Palestine), USA, Canada included a lot of Jewish soldiers • Are they consciously fighting as Jews? Or for their country? • Are they fighting to save the Jews? • For the Allies, war wasn’t waged in order to save the Jews of Europe – it was to defeat the Nazis (not the same) Jewish Partisans Definition partisans • Regular armed fighters – not uniform, fighting secretly rather than part of a regular military arrangement • Loosely applied to both Western and Eastern Europe • Work as independent units, some work as members of much broader resistance movements Goals • To undermine the enemy in any way possible • Blowing up trains, transmitting intelligence, smuggling people or information out Location • Most active in Eastern Europe • Jews/Soviets • Some in Western Europe as well • Conditions in Eastern Europe, number of Jews there • Geography – more suitable for hiding, partisan warfare in forests, underpopulated areas rather than urban areas Numbers • Depends on the definition/type of partisans • Often have a temporary status • Many don’t survive so one can be a partisan for a very short period of time Profile of a partisan • Youth • Men (some women) • People who were successful enough to get out of the ghetto, allude capture, go on to fight in whatever capacity the group or resistance group deems suitable for the location Armée Juive / Jewish Army Zionist youth • France Switzerland • Smuggled money from Switzerland • Used that money to fuel their anti-Nazi work within France itself • Worked to provide false papers to Jews who could be smuggled out of occupied France and Vichy France • Most cases they’d be taken to Spain • Ended up smuggling about 500 Jews from France to neutral Spain Francs-Tireurs et Partisans – main d’oeuvre immigrée / Riflemen & Partisans – Immigrant Workforce Movement Manouchian • After Armenian leader of this group Paris • Operated mainly in Paris (start in early 1930s as an immigrant Communist workers association) • Transforms in wartime period to become anti-Nazi fighting force in Paris Sabotage, assassination, smuggling people • Frequenting cafes and restaurants and theaters where Nazis are likely to be and targeting them for assassination • Smuggling people out • Especially active in Vel d’Hiv roundup summer 1942 Foreign-born, many Yiddish-speaking • Mainly people from Eastern Europe Marcel Rajman • 1923-44 • Polish Jew came to France as a young boy • Parents deported to death camps in 1942 • He became involved with the sabotage group • Became one of its most notable assassins and saboteurs The Red Poster Show trial February 1944 • Rajman and 23 others are the core of this group • Engage in all of this anti-Nazi activity • Aggressively pursued by the Nazis o Caught in 1944 • Dramatic show trial that Nazis put on • Very quickly conducted • All members of the group are executed Purpose of the poster • Nazis put out the poster • Shows the key individuals associated with this group • Liberation “by the army of crime” • Purpose to brand individuals as “criminal foreigners” o Saying that these aren’t even real French Jews – they’re immigrants, foreigners • Hoping they can appeal to French nationalism in some way Backfired • Strategy backfires • Many of these posters are defaced by the French • Scrawled on them that these people fought for France • Anti-Nazism The Army of Crime France, 2009 • French move about this organization • By R. Guediguian Bielski Partisans & the Bielski “Family Camp” Tuvia Bielski • 1906-1987 • Polish Jew • Militarily trained • Polish state in interwar period • He and 3 of his brothers formed this partisan group Growth from 1942 • Initially had 30 people at its core • Grew over the course of the war to 1200 people • 70% of members were women and children Nomadic existence • Moved from place to place Naliboki Forest end 1943 • Eventually settled in Naliboki Forest • Godforsaken territory • Swampy land • Inaccessible, good place to hide • Establish a mini community there Survival methods • Try to create self-sufficiency • Wait out the Nazi period/war • Do everything from grow crops to raising animals, steal things, cooperate with Soviet partisans, etc. • Exists and works • Great numbers of them survive the war Armed Revolts in Ghettos Goal & purpose • Not to stop the Nazis
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