Teaching about Antisemitism
Rescue and Resistance
This educational module aims to teach students about rescue and resistance. Using material from the Museum’s Voices on Antisemitism, the module:
- Illustrates the existence and broad impact of contemporary antisemitism;
- Demonstrates the ongoing relevance of the Holocaust to law, faith, the arts, and other areas;
- Introduces, punctuates, or ends sections of study; as homework or in-class listening.
The module is divided into six sections:
Khaled Abdul-Wahab, a Tunisian who rescued two dozen Jews during the Holocaust, is the first Arab person to be nominated for the designation of Righteous Among the Nations. Faiza Abdul-Wahab reflects here on her father's life and legacy. Learn more »
Actor Daniel Craig is perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Agent 007 in the James Bond movies. But his latest film, Defiance, is based on the true story of the Bielski brothers, who led a resistance against the Nazis during the Second World War. Learn more »
Gerda Klein survived the Holocaust and was liberated by an American soldier who she eventually married. Here, Klein discusses her understanding of hatred and antisemitism today. Learn more »
Johanna Neumann speaks with gratitude and affection of the family who rescued her during the Holocaust. Yet her fondness for them exists alongside some profound contradictions. Learn more »
Soon after September 11, 2001, Robert Satloff moved to Rabat, Morocco, to search for Arab heroes during the Holocaust. Listen to him explain why. Learn more »
In 1940, Tracy Strong left the relative safety of America to help students displaced by the war in Europe to continue their studies. While uncomfortable with the title "hero," Strong's efforts to sustain an educational safe haven ultimately proved life saving for many young Jews. Learn more »
The impression that no one fought back against the Nazis is a myth. Jews and non-Jews carried out acts of resistance in every country of Europe that the Germans occupied, as well as in satellite states. They resisted in ghettos, concentration camps, and killing centers, under the most harrowing of circumstances. A deeper understanding of what is needed to resist an oppressive regime, what factors deter resistance, and that little acts can make a difference provides a more complex and nuanced view of what it meant to rescue and resist. It sheds light on the surprising variety and extent of resistance and rescue that did take place against the Nazis and their collaborators.
The Voices on Antisemitism podcast series is designed to bring together a variety of distinguished leaders of different backgrounds to comment on why antisemitism matters today. Several voices in this series discuss rescue and resistance efforts carried out during the Holocaust. These voices come from a variety of backgrounds, including Daniel Craig, who discusses the movie Defiance and his role as Tuvia Bielski, who protected twelve hundred Jews in a Belorussian forest; Johanna Neumann, who was hidden with her parents by a German-Muslim family in Albania; and Faiza Abdul-Wahab, whose father saved two dozen Jews on his Tunisian farm after the Nazis invaded North Africa.
Most non-Jews neither aided nor hindered the “Final Solution.” Relatively few people helped Jews escape. Those who did aid Jews were motivated by opposition to Nazi racism, by compassion, or by religious or moral principle. In a few rare instances, entire communities as well as individuals helped save Jews. They did so at tremendous risk. In many places, providing shelter to Jews was punishable by death.
Despite the indifference of most Europeans and the collaboration of others in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, individuals in every European country and from all religious backgrounds risked their lives to help Jews. Rescue efforts ranged from the isolated actions of individuals to organized networks both small and large. Whether they saved a thousand people or a single life, those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust demonstrated the possibility of individual choice even in extreme circumstances.
Organized armed resistance was the most direct form of Jewish opposition. But in many areas of Europe, Jewish resistance instead focused on aid, rescue, and spiritual resistance. The preservation of Jewish cultural institutions and the continuance of religious observance were acts of spiritual resistance to the Nazi policy of genocide. These and other acts of conscience and courage, however, saved only a tiny percentage of those targeted for destruction.
Questions for Discussion or Writing
In the movie Defiance, Daniel Craig’s character Tuvia Bielski didn't intend to be a hero, but when the opportunity arose to save others he took it.
- Discuss the factors that led him to rescue and resist, and what obstacles he had to overcome.
- Why did Faiza Abdul-Wahab’s father never speak of how he hid Jews during World War II?
What is the importance of the work that Robert Satloff is doing today?
Johanna Neumann and Gerda Weissmann Klein both survived the Holocaust under significantly different circumstances.
- Discuss the differences between their “rescues.”
Discuss the difficulty Tracy Strong faced leaving the relative safety of the United States to go overseas in order to rescue others.
- Who motivated him to do so?
- Create your own podcast interview: Students discuss what is needed to resist an oppressive situation, what factors deter resistance, and how acts can make a difference?
- Group Activity: In groups, students examine in-depth how the individuals discussed in the Voices on Antisemitism episodes rescued, were rescued, or resisted during the Holocaust.
- Photo Activity: Using quotations from the podcast series, students portray their thoughts and feelings about that quotation through photographs selected from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Photo Archive database.
- Press Conference Activity: Students simulate a press conference and make a presentation about how one of the podcast interviewees rescued others, was rescued, or resisted during the Holocaust.
Flight & Rescue
(Online exhibition in which users trace the journeys of over 2,000 Polish Jewish refugees through photographs, personal articles, and survivor interviews.)
Past Revisited: Reflections on the Study of the Holocaust and Contemporary Antisemitism
(Steven Zipperstein’s study of antisemitism and the Holocaust within the context of modern Jewish history.)
Rescue Animated Map
(Illustrating rescue efforts in Denmark, France, Poland, and Hungary.)
The Rescue of the Jews of Denmark
(Special focus page about the Danish resistance movement, which, assisted by many ordinary citizens, coordinated the flight of some 7,200 Jews to safety in nearby neutral Sweden.)
Resistance Animated Map
(Illustrating Jewish and non-Jewish resistance in ghettos, concentration camps, killing centers, and behind the front lines across Europe.)
Resistance During the Holocaust
(Educational pamphlet exploring examples of armed and unarmed resistance by Jews and other Holocaust victims.)
Additional Online Resources Related to Rescue and Resistance