The “Lenin” Partisan Brigade, active in the Zhetel region. Pinkes Zhetel (Tel-Aviv: Zhetel Association in Israel, 1957)
The Warsaw ghetto uprising of April 1943 is often viewed as the classic example of Jewish armed resistance to Nazi oppression during the Holocaust. Indeed, most studies of Jewish resistance have focused on events in the larger ghettos such as Warsaw, Bialystok, Grodno, or Minsk. However, the Germans established more than 800 ghettos throughout eastern Europe and Jews engaged in some form of resistance in many of them.
Jews generally took the option of armed resistance as the last resort, and only after the underground groups in various locations became convinced that the Nazis were bent on the total annihilation of the Jews. It was often clear that fighting against such an overwhelming foe would not mean survival; it would mean a proud death on the Jews’ terms, to be remembered as defenders of the Jewish people. Nonetheless, once the decision was made, Jewish underground groups, both in the ghettos and in the forests, engaged in armed resistance in any way they could.