Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust: Moral Uses of by James M. Glass (auth.)

By James M. Glass (auth.)

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By James M. Glass (auth.)

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Additional info for Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust: Moral Uses of Violence and Will

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After he witnesses his wife being picked up during a roundup, Abraham Lewin records in his diary, ‘I have no words to describe my desolation. I ought to go after her, to die. ’32 Weakening of the body, weakening of the spirit, happened simultaneously. Calorie intake in Warsaw, for example, was around 184 a day. Between January 1941 and July 1942, nearly 61,000 people died from malnutrition. Eighty percent of the food entering the ghetto came from smuggling. German soldiers look at this devastated humanity and witness the embodiment of their racial theories.

The diaries of resistance fighters are filled with the imagery of transformation, confrontation and transcendence; the diaries of ghetto inmates reflect a despair even at the possibility of action and a preoccupation with death and moral decay. Two psychological facts became increasingly clear in what Jewish resistance movements refused to accept: first, being drawn into an emotional black hole that would immobilize action; and second, dissociation – a complete affective removal not only from the body of the community but also from the body of the self.

Undergrounds understood clearly the intent of German policy; they knew what the Germans had in store for them; couriers (primarily young Jews with ‘Aryan’ features) had brought them first-hand reports of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Ponary and the Ninth Fort (outside Kovno). They understood the German belief system. For example, in Vilna, the underground had publicized the German vocabulary of killing. ’53 Faced with this universe which reduced the Jews to a bureaucratic problem in sanitation management, the Vilna underground pleaded with the populace, exhorting them to fight.

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