In the years since World War II, there has been a good deal of speculation as to why the Jews did not do more to resist the Nazis, why they passively accepted what befell them. There are rational, clear responses to this question. Basically, there was no way to resist, no hope of overcoming the numbers, weapons, and cruelty of the Germans and their allied oppressors. Anyone who tried to stand up to the Germans, let alone fight them, was immediately killed; in addition, if anyone escaped from a ghetto or camp, many others were killed as a punishment. Thus, by putting the responsibility for the murder of other innocent people on those who tried resistance or escape, the Germans devised a most effective preventive weapon.
In spite of this almost insurmountable difficulty, individual Jews as well as groups did carry out desperate, heroic acts of resistance throughout the war in all parts of Europe. From the ghettos to the slave labor camps and concentration camps, Jews managed to work underground, escape, accumulate weapons, sabotage German installations, attack German fighting units, even organize some major uprisings.
Three stories in this section are about the simple yet profound heroism of children. Often because they could get around relatively unnoticed, young girls and boys ventured out to secure food or to do other dangerous errands. The three stories in “Unsung Heroes” speak of these children.
Actual resistance fighters, for the most part, were single young men who did not have the responsibility of taking care of a family. Groups of these young men formed clandestine organizations, planning escapes from the ghettos even though this might very well cause punishment or death for other ghetto inhabitants. After escaping, they joined partisan bands in the forests, living in huts or underground, scrounging for food, attacking and sabotaging wherever they could. “Lithuanian Friends” and “Friend or Enemy?” detail the hardships and perils, the resolute strength of men who went this precarious route.
Even in the concentration camps, where conditions were most austere and death almost inevitable, organized resistance existed. “Resist in Everything!” is a gripping story about resistance brigades functioning with military precision under the noses of the Germans. The story takes place during a death march, one