This month the JFR recommends Jewish Resistance Against the Nazis by Patrick Henry. It was reviewed in Goerge Mason University’s History News Network by Murray Polner in May 2014. The review reads:
“…Patrick Henry’s masterly collection of cerebral and quite readable essays in Jewish Resistance Against the Nazis, proves that Jews fighting the Nazis and their allies, violently and nonviolently, was fairly common. Frequently relying on unfamiliar sources, Henry’s essayists depict all kinds of resistance, from futile skirmishes with a handful of axes, hammers and rocks as in the late 1944 revolt at Auschwitz, then the last remaining death camp, to the larger revolts in the Bialystok, Vilna and Warsaw ghettos.
Henry, an emeritus professor at Whitman College (full disclosure: we are colleagues on another publication) explains that these desperate actions and many more took place, “without any hope of forcing the Germans to change their minds.”
…Powerlessness, “Henry rightly emphasizes, “is not synonymous with passivity,” There were in fact many kinds of resistance. Some fought back by saving children, their own and others as well… Pacifist Huguenots in France shielded Jewish children and extraordinary people such as Raoul Wallenberg rescued many others. Fleeing was another form of nonviolent resistance. 76,000 French Jews were sent eastward by Vichy and their German overlords but some managed to cross the Pyrenees into Spain while others found refuge in places like Shanghai, Bolivia, and the United States…
Jewish Resistance Against the Nazis portrays many other examples of Jewish resistance. In Suzanne Vroman’s essay –she is professor emerita of sociology at Bard College and lived in Belgium when the Germans invaded in 1940; a year later she and her family escaped and found refuge in the Belgian Congo. “Anti-fascist Jews and non-Jews were an active minority of resisters but “the clandestine Communist organization of foreigners were primarily Jewish.”
.…At the very end of his thoughtful introduction, Henry, a Catholic, wonders whether the long history of Christian, especially Catholic, anti-Semitism contributed to the Nazi nightmare. Why, we must ask, were so many in Catholics in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Ukraine so eager to collaborate with the Nazis and their genocidal schemes? Henry offers his hope that “Christian apologies to the Jews and burgeoning examples of interfaith reconciliation offer a ray of hope that whatever residue of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism” still exists will in time be erased.
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