There is a common misconception that Jews did not resist during the Holocaust.
- 1How can we change the conversation about Jewish resistance during the Holocaust?
Ask your students what words come to mind when they think of the Holocaust. If you choose to, write them on the board as you go. Does the term “resistance” come up?
Tell students that it is a common myth that Jews went like “sheep to the slaughter” during the Holocaust. Let students know that the people they will hear from in the video were part of the resistance, a group of Jewish partisans that fought against Nazi forces and saved the lives of thousands.
Define a partisan for the class, explaining that a partisan is, “a member of an organized body of fighters who attack or harass an enemy, especially behind enemy lines; a guerrilla.” A group using guerrilla tactics use irregular forms of fighting such as sabotage and hit-and-run attacks.
Play the video, Introduction to the Jewish Partisans, by Facing History and Ourselves. Open up to a class discussion about partisans with the questions below.
- What tactics did the partisans use in order to fight?
- How did they stay hidden?
- Did it surprise you that there were female fighters in the resistance? Why do you think this was more common than women fighting in an official military?
Continue the class discussion with the following thoughts. Read through the two statements below to direct the conversation.
- In the video, a woman named Sonia Orbuch states that, “People did not go like sheep to their deaths. People were fighting every which way they can.”
- Ellie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and author of Night, suggests an alternative to the question, “Why didn’t the Jews resist?” Instead, Wiesel explains, “The question is not why all the Jews did not fight, but how so many of them did. Tormented, beaten, starved, where did they find the strength -spiritual and physical- to resist?”
What are ways in which we as individuals can help change the narrative?
Wisconsin Academic Standards
This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.