Why No Separate Jewish Partisan Movement in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume I

Moshe Kahanowitz


Why No Separate Jewish Partisan Movement was Established during World War II

Why did the Jews, whose prospects of survival in the ghettoes were infinitesimal, not emulate the Russian people who contributed significantly towards victory by fighting behind the lines? Yet, in vast areas with large forests and marshes, hundreds of Jews did manage to fight and survive the difficult conditions. Several factors severely hindered resistance: 1. Jews of Eastern Europe were essentially urban and feared facing survival in the forest amid the cold and hunger; 2. the breaking of close family ties; 3. the intensity of the bloodlust against Jews by their Christian neighbors in Poland, Lithuania, White Russia, and the Ukraine — such mass hostility dissuaded Jews from taking to the forests; 4. the difficulty in escaping from the ghetto without arms; 5. initially mass extermination of Jews was not considered a prospect, and later the Germans had broken the spirit of the people and many became apathetic; 6. a completely fatalistic reaction to the aktzias, and a belief in a miraculous deliverance was another obstacle; 7. the first victims of the slaughter were members of the intelligentsia, leaving many communities leaderless; and 8. leaders of the revolt were apprehensive about calling for mass resistance, as they did not trust the Judenrat. The masses were not supportive, having had no training in the use of firearms and military tactics. Accordingly, in retrospect, a mass escape to the forest and formation of a resistance would have had no chance of succeeding. The local peasants would not have endangered their lives to support the Jews. None of the Allied armies sent essential arms and officers to train the Jews in their use. The Polish resistance did not welcome the Jews. The Russian resistance permitted Jewish bands to join them. The advance of the Germans was so rapid that there was no time to organize significant resistance.

Products specifications
Year 1957
Catalog No. 195707
No. of Pages 15 pp.
Format Electronic article in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume I, pp. 153-167, Edited by Benzion Dinur and Shaul Esh
Publisher Yad Vashem