Home / Arts / Books / How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism | Resistance: Jews and Christians who Defied the Nazi Terror
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013

How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism | Resistance: Jews and Christians who Defied the Nazi Terror

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The apparent lack of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust has long been troubling. Johns Hopkins political science professor Benjamin Ginsberg proposes a new way of understanding what actually happened: Jews did resist, not so much in the impossible environs of Nazi-occupied Europe but from elsewhere. Jews took leading roles in Britain’s codebreaking program and America’s nuclear project, eagerly served in the U.S. and Soviet military and designed some of Russia’s best weapons, including the T-34 tank. Ginsberg leaps to some invalid assumptions—the atom bomb almost certainly would not have been dropped on Germany had the Nazis held out a few months longer—but his thesis brings fresh eyes to an old subject.

 

For University of Connecticut sociologist Nechama Tec, resistance is not measured in armed struggle alone. Resistance examines case studies of life under Nazi occupation. She finds Jews were initially shocked at the rough treatment meted out by the Germans and lacked understanding for the scope of Nazi ambitions. Tec is especially interesting in her examination of the ghettos, where flux was constant along with hunger, crowding, deprivation and conflict among Jewish prisoners who often had little in common beyond shared ancestry. And yet, the inmates flouted Nazi regulations and established mutual aid societies, soup kitchens, orphanages and hospitals. As confidence (or desperation) increased, the Jews of the ghettos began fighting back with guns, claiming casualties among the Nazis in an uneven struggle for survival. (David Luhrssen)

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