Memoria [EN] Nr 35 (08/2020) - Page 4

Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust

A new exhibition at The Wiener Holocaust Library, London

During the Holocaust, Jewish partisan groups and underground resistance networks launched attacks, sabotage operations and rescue missions. Resistance groups in ghettos organised social, religious, cultural and educational activities and armed uprisings in defiance of their oppressors. In death camps, in the most extreme circumstances, resisters gathered evidence of Nazi atrocities and even mounted armed rebellions.

Lara Sebire-Hawkins, Wiener Holocaust Library

The Wiener Holocaust Library’s new exhibition draws upon the Library’s unique archival collections to tell the story of the Jewish men and women who, as the Holocaust unfolded around them, and at great personal risk, resisted the Nazis and their collaborators.

The Library reveals stories of endurance and bravery, including that of Tosia Altman in Nazi-occupied Poland, who travelled in and out of various ghettos on false papers, passing information, raising awareness and organising armed revolt. Altman smuggled weapons into the Warsaw Ghetto in preparation for the armed uprising. She escaped from the ghetto but was ultimately captured. Tosia Altman died of her injuries, sustained on the run, on 26 May 1943 at the age of 24.

The exhibition also explores individual acts of resistance: the maintenance of secret diaries by Ruth Wiener in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen and Esther Pauline Lloyd, a Jewish woman deported from the Channel Islands in 1943 who recorded in great detail her experiences of the internment camps in France and Germany.

Philipp Manes, a German Jew and a prolific writer was deported to Theresienstadt ghetto with his wife, Gertrud, in July 1942. Whilst incarcerated, Manes was key to the cultural life in the ghetto and he documented his experiences in great detail. The Wiener Holocaust Library holds nine of his notebooks within the Philipp Manes Collection. This collection of documents and writings provides valuable insight into the artistic and intellectual endeavours of internees held in the ghetto. Manes’ Theresienstadt diaries also contain contributions by other incarcerated prisoners such as poems, letters, and drawings.

Manes’ final notebook breaks off mid-sentence. On 28 October 1944, Philipp and Gertrud were sent to Auschwitz in one of the last transports to leave Theresienstadt, where they were both murdered.

Jewish Resistance to the Holocaust features stories from The Wiener Holocaust Library’s collection of eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust, collected by Library staff in the 1950s. Many of these documents have never been on display before and were translated into English for the first time for this exhibition. The collection includes first-hand accounts from the survivors of armed resistance groups, stories of the activities of the underground networks that rescued Jews, and the accounts of those who resisted the Nazis by going into hiding in German-occupied Europe.

Philipp Manes, a German Jew and prolific writer, was deported to Theresienstadt in July 1942. Manes was key to the cultural life in the ghetto and he documented his experiences in great detail. The Library holds a collection of the journals that he kept during his incarceration. Wiener Holocaust Library Collections.