Debate Magazine

Jewish Resistance to Nazi Oppression

Posted on the 26 August 2011 by Mikeb302000
For the most part, there wasn't too much armed resistance to the Nazis from the Jews. First, they were not commonly armed even prior to the 1928 Law. Second, Jews had seen pogroms before and had survived them, though not without suffering. They would expect that this one would, as had the past ones, eventually subside and permit a return to normalcy. Many considered themselves “patriotic Germans” for their service in the first World War. These simply were not people prepared to stage violent resistance. Nor were they alone in this mode of appeasement. The defiance of “never again” is not so much a warning to potential oppressors as it is a challenge to Jews to reject the passive response to pogrom. Third, it hardly seems conceivable that armed resistance by Jews (or any other target group) would have led to any weakening of Nazi rule, let alone a full scale popular rebellion; on the contrary, it seems more likely it would have strengthened the support the Nazis already had. Their foul lies about Jewish perfidy would have been given a grain of substance. To project backward and speculate thus is to fail to learn the lesson history has so painfully provided.

That's not to say that resistance didn't occur, there were a few ghetto uprisings, The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is the best known of the Jewish resistance that arose within the Ghettos in German occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. This was caused by Nazi Germany's effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp. The uprising began on January 18, 1943. The most significant portion of the rebellion took place from April 19 until May 16, 1943, and ended when the poorly armed and supplied resistance was crushed by the German troops under the direct command of Jürgen Stroop.

The Ghetto fighters (numbering some 400 to 1,000 by April 19) were armed primarily with pistols and revolvers. Just a few rifles and automatic firearms smuggled into the Ghetto were available. The insurgents had little ammunition, and relied heavily on improvised explosive devices and incendiary bottles; more weapons were supplied throughout the uprising or captured from the Germans. Some weapons were hand-made by resistance: sometimes such weapons worked, other times they jammed repeatedly. In his daily reports, Stroop wrote his forces were able to recover the "booty" consisting of:

  • April 20, 1943:...In today's action we caught, apart from the Jews reported above, considerable stores of incendiary bottles, hand grenades, ammunition, military tunics, and equipment.
  • April 22, 1943:...captured 80 incendiary bottles and other booty.
  • April 23, 1943:...We captured apart from valuables and money - some gas masks.
  • April 24, 1943:..and an amount of paper money, especially dollars was captured; this money has not yet been counted.
  • April 25, 1943:..and in one bunker 3 pistols and explosive charges were captured. Further today, significant supplies of paper money, currency, gold coins and items of jewelry were secured.
  • April 26, 1943:...Once again, weapons, Molotov cocktails, explosive devices and large amounts of money were captured.
  • April 27, 1943:...In this operation we captured 3 rifles, 12 pistols, partly of heavier caliber, 100 Polish "pineapple" hand grenades, 27 German steel helmets, quite a number of German uniforms, tunics and coats which were even furnished with ribbon of the East medal, some reserve magazines for machine guns, 300 rounds of ammunition, etc.
  • April 28, 1943:..capturing more arms, ammunition, and military equipment
  • April 29, 1943:..Captured are 2 rifles, 10 pistols, 10 kilograms of explosives, and ammunition of various types
  • April 30, 1943:..Today, we again captured arms and particularly parts of German uniforms from them.
  • May 2, 1943:...arms and ammunition captured.
  • May 3, 1943:...We captured among other things, one German rifle, model 98, two 08 pistols and other calibers, also home-made hand grenades.
  • May 4, 1943:.. We captured 1 carbine, 3 pistols, and some ammunition.
  • May 5, 1943:..Today, we again captured arms and ammunition, including one pistol.
  • May 6, 1943:..One Jew who had escaped from Lublin was caught just outside of the Ghetto wall. He was armed as follows: 1 08 pistol, ample reserve ammunition, 2 Polish "pineapple" hand grenades.
  • May 7, 1943:..We captured 4 pistols of various calibers and some stores of ammunition.
  • May 8, 1943:..We captured about 15 to 20 pistols of various calibers, considerable stores of ammunition for pistols and rifles, moreover a number of hand grenades, made in the former armament factories.
  • May 9, 1943:..Again we captured some pistols and hand grenades.
  • May 10, 1943:..Today, we again captured small arms and some ammunition.
  • May 11, 1943:..Considerable amounts of food were captured or secured, in order to make it more and more difficult for them to get necessary food...We captured several pistols, hand grenades, and ammunition.
  • May 13, 1943:..Booty: 6 pistols, 2 hand grenades, and some explosive charges.
  • May 14, 1943:..some pistols, among them one of 12-mm caliber, were captured. In one dugout inhabited by 100 persons, we were able to capture 2 rifles, 16 Pistols, some hand grenades and incendiary appliances. Of the bandits who resisted, some again wore German military uniform, German steel helmets and "knobelbecher." Apart from the carbines. we captured 60 rounds of German rifle ammunition...Booty: rifles, pistols and ammunition. Further, a number of incendiary bottles (Molotov cocktails).
  • May 15, 1943:.. We captured 4 pistols of larger calibers, 1 infernal machine with fuse, 10 kilograms of explosives, and a considerable amount of ammunition.
  • May 24, 1943:
Seven Polish rifles, one Russian and one German rifle, 59 pistols of various calibers, several hundred incendiary bottles, home-made explosives, infernal machines with fuses, a large amount of explosives and ammunition for weapons of all calibers, including some machine gun ammunition. Regarding the booty of arms, it must be taken into consideration that the arms themselves could in most cases not be captured, as the bandits and Jews would, before being arrested, throw them into hiding places or holes which could not be ascertained or discovered. The smoking out of the dug-out by our men, also often made the search for arms impossible. As the dug-outs had to be blown up at once, a search later on was out of the question.
So, the Jews were able to acquire firearms and other weapons despite Nazi "Gun Control". If they didn't get them prior to the uprising, they could have been able to have captured weapons from the defeated Nazis. Additionally support from the Polish Underground also provided the insurgents with a limited number of badly needed weapons and ammunition from its meager stocks. Jewish fighters from the Jewish Military Union (ŻZW) received only from the National Security Corps (PKB) underground police force: 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light machine guns, 21 submachine guns, 30 rifles, 50 pistols, and over 400 grenades. The Polish Resistance also disseminated information and appeals to help the Jews in the ghetto, both in Poland and by way of radio transmissions to the Allies.

The problem, the Nazi troops were far better armed and had the ability to resupply, which the Jews in the Ghetto were not.

The upshot:
3,000 Jews were killed in the ghetto during the uprising (some 6,000 among them were burnt alive or died from smoke inhalation). Of the remaining 50,000 residents, most were captured and shipped to concentration and extermination camps, in particular to Treblinka.

Germans 17 killed and 93 wounded.

Sometimes a heavily armed and determined opposition is just swept up and crushed — guns or no guns. And those who aren't prepared to fight are just crushed.

Despite your giving firearms a godlike quality,they cannot protect you in all circumstances. A firearm is useless against an enemy that is better trained and equipped: especially if that equipment includes armour, artillery, guided missiles, drones, etcetera.

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