When we think about the holocaust it seems that there was little to no resistance shown by the Jewish community but that’s actually not true. There were many Jews all over Europe that resisted the Nazis. Some of these resistances came in the form of uprisings at ghettos and concentration camps, the most famous of which is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. There were Jewish Partisans, small military groups, all over Europe that fought the Nazis and helped many Jews to survive and escape. Here are the top 10 popular Jewish protesters during the holocaust.
10. Hannah Szenes:
Hannah Szenes was born in a Hungarian Jewish family. She emigrated to British Mandate of Palestine to study and in 1943 she enlisted in the British army in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. In 1944 she was part of a military operation and parachuted into Yugoslavia to rescue Hungarian Jews who were being transported to Auschwitz. She was captured at the Hungarian border and tortured for many months but she did not reveal any information about her operation. She was tried and executed by a firing squad at the age of 23 on November 7, 1944.
9. Haviva Reik:
Haviva Reik was also a Palestinian Jewish parachutist sent by British Special Operations Executive on military missions in Nazi Europe. She resisted the German occupation in Slovakia in 1944 where she built a camp for Russian prisoners of war who had escaped. When the Germans sent forces to put down the Jewish resistance, Reik and other parachutists escaped into the mountains with about 40 local Jews. They were finally captured, massacred and buried in a mass grave.
8. Simcha Zorin:
Shalom Simcha Zorin was a Jewish Soviet Partisan commander in Minsk. Zorin formed the Jewish Partisan that was called Unit 106 and later on simply as the Zorin unit. The unit began with 60 men and 15 guns but grew to over 800 people. They had a camp in the Naliboki Forest from where they launched attacks at Nazis and also helped Jews escape and settle in the camp.
7. Ester Wajcblum:
Ester Wajcblum was born in Warsaw in 1924. She was deported to Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp where she worked at a metal factory as a prisoner. She helped in stealing gunpowder from the factory and smuggle it into the camp. This gunpowder was used to make crude grenades for the October 7, 1944 revolt of Auschwitz. The revolt wasn’t successful but they succeeded in blowing up crematorium 3. She was captured and interrogated but didn’t reveal and secrets. She was hanged on January 5, 1945.
6. Roza Robota:
Roza Robota was one of the four women, including Ester Wajcblum, who were hanged on January 5, 1945 for smuggling gunpowder and trying to revolt in the Auschwitz concentration camp. She worked in the clothing depot near crematorium 3 in Aushwitz. She was also tortured before being executed along with Ester, Ala Gertner and Regina Safirsztajn.
5. Vladka Meed:
Vladka Meed was born in Warsaw in 1921. Vladka’s mother, sister and brother died in Treblinka extermination camp. She along with Benjamin Meed, who she married later, pretended to be Aryans to survive the holocaust. They helped organize the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by smuggling dynamite into the ghetto and helping children escape out of it. She died recently from Alzheimer’s disease in 2012 in USA.
4. Mordechai Anielewicz:
Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa or ZOB which was a Jewish combat organization that helped lead the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He lead the first act of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on 18 January, 1943 that became the precursor to the bigger uprising that started on 19th April. He is believed to have died on 8 May 1943 at the surrounded command post of ZOB. His body was never found and is thought to have been burned in the crematorium with the rest of the Jewish dead.
3. Marek Edelman:
Marek Edelman was a Jewish Polish political and social activist and a cardiologist. He was the last surviving leader of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising till 2009 when he died at the age of 90 in Poland. He received a military burial and Polish president and former president were also present at his funeral. During the uprising he was second in command to Mordechai Anielewicz. He escaped through the sewers when the uprising ended and sought safety in the non ghetto part of Warsaw.
2. Leon Feldhendler:
Leon Feldhendler was a Polish Jewish resistance fighter. He had a major role in organizing the uprising at Sobibor extermination camp on 14 October, 1943. He had been planning the escape of fellow prisoners for a long time and one of their plans to poison the guards had been caught and foiled. When Alexander Pechersky came in to the Sobibor extermination camp, Feldhendler became his deputy and organized the uprising and eventual escape from the camp.
1. Alexander Pechersky:
Alexander Pechersky was a Russian officer in the Red Army. He was captured and brought to Sobibor extermination camp. There along with Leon Feldhendler they planned and executed the uprising of 14 October, 1943. They killed SS officers inside the camp and stole weapons to fight the rest of the guards who had been left leaderless. Their plan was to fight their way out of the main gate. The body of one of the officers was found by a guard and their plan detected early. Out of the 550 Jewish prisoners at the Sobibor death camp, 130 chose not to participate in the uprising, 80 were killed during the escape and 170 were caught later. All those who stayed back and those who were caught were executed. 53 Sobibor escapees managed to survive the war. Pechersky died in 1990 in Russia.