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Spiritual Resistance in Holocaust Literature
Spiritual resistance is the extraordinary efforts of persecuted people to be intensely human in the face of unspeakably brutalizing circumstances. It is not at all necessarily related to religious beliefs. Many authors including Zdena Berger and Josef Bor have embodied this belief in their writings. Conductor Raphael Schachter and 150 singers practiced Verdi’s Requiem under the most difficult conditions in Theresienstadt for eighteen months — a prime example of spiritual resistance to the Nazi officials who attended the performance. Janus Korczak and Rabbi David Shapiro could have saved themselves but elected to accompany their charges from the Warsaw ghetto to the death camps. John Hersey’s epic The Wall demonstrates the dignity and pride of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto. Elie Wiesel’s The Town beyond the Wall and André Schwarz-Bart’s The Last of the Just have more complicated plots and show that one individual’s spirit and determination can help to alleviate physical suffering and mental anguish in others.