Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Jewish Resistance in the Ghettos: Home

Recommended First Steps
Step 1: Identify your topic and relevant keywords. Clarify the issue or question you plan to research.
Step 2: Conduct an initial internet search. Looking at how others discuss or present your topic online provides a general idea of the information you need to find.
Step 3: Examine online sources. In your initial search, note the sources referenced by websites and article authors. Look for experts or sources that appear repeatedly.
Step 4: Analyze source and expert bias. Search for information about your identified experts and sources to determine if they display a particular bias or perspective.
Step 5: Identify ways to find scholarly articles on your topic. Determine locations for articles that you can access, such as your school library, research databases, open access journals, and advanced online search commands and search engines.

Jewish Resistance in the Ghettos

Information provided by Midwest Center for Holocuat Education (MCHE)

The enormity of the Holocaust was such that no victim response to it would have stopped the Germans from implementing genocide.  Jews under Nazi control faced various and overwhelming obstacles to effective resistance.  Despite this, Jews repeatedly sought to oppose Nazi policy in various ways.  While armed uprisings or partisan activities are often held up as examples of successful Jewish Resistance, not all resistance was armed.  Often the only course of action available was an act of unarmed resistance.


Successful acts of resistance took many forms, ranging from personal acts to preserve dignity; social acts to preserve the community such as organizing clandestine schools, soup kitchens and underground record keeping; political acts such as the sabotage of the German war industry; and eventually, armed uprisings.  Nowhere was resistance more robust than in the ghettos where Jews last lived as families and communities and resistance activities occurred amidst extreme conditions and again enormous odds.


Research:  Describe the goals and obstacles to one specific form of Jewish resistance in the ghettos.  Explain how that method was used by one Jewish person or group.

Reflection:   Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz said, "The wonder is not that there was so little resistance, but that, in the end there was so much." Based on your research, do you agree with this thought?  Why or why not?

Resistance Research Article Answer Guide

Resistance Research Student Essay Recommended Resources

Film Clip from "The PIanist" - "The Little Smuggler

Virtual Tour of Aushwitz

A Film Unfinished- Trailer

Photograph Collection

*Some of the photos do not line up completely with the narrative in the articles, but they are a general representation of the subject matter.

1.Oneg Shabbat - Slides 1 - 4

2. Excerpt from Dawid Sierakowiak:  Slides 6 - 22

3. Vladka Meed:  Slide 23

4. Zenia's Testimony -Mothers, Sisters, Resistance:  Slides 24 - 30

5. Armed Resistance in the Ghetto:  Slides 31-32

6. Proclamation by Jewish Pioneer Youth Group - Vilna:  Slide 33

7. Call to Resistance:  Slide 34

8. The Discussion of Fighting Aims by the Activists of the Bialystok:  Slide 35

Resistance to the Holocaust Power Point


Partisan  - A firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person.

Zionist -  A political movement that supports the maintenance and preservation of the State of Israel (Palestine).

Clandestine School - On November 18, 1938 all Jews were terminated from their jobs.  Clandestine schools developed in the ghettos.  Unemployed teachers from prewar faculitties staffed the schools in different ghettos.  Vilna, Lodz, and Warsaw had elaborate school systems.  1941 - All schools were disbanded and children 10 and up were forced ot work in labor camps.

Bund - 1939 Jewish Trade had 14 trade unions, 498 branches, and 99,000 workers - They displayed initiative and energy to organize self-defense groups and protest strikes against antisemitism. 

Betar:  Zionist Youth Movement founded in 1923.  During WW2, Betar engaged in illegal operations which by 1939 allowed some Jews freedom in Palestine. Betar volunteered for Palestinian Units of the British Army and the Jewish Brigade.

Witnesses to the Holocaust Archive

Witnesses to the Holocaust Archive

Explore individual testimonies of 73 Kansas City – area Holocaust survivors in MCHE’s Witnesses to the Holocaust Archive.  The online archive features survivors from several countries including Germany, Poland, Hungary, Holland, and Greece.  Their Testimonies address a variety of experiences including early legal persecution, ghettoization, slave and death camp experiences, survival in hiding, and liberation.

Each profile page features the individual survivor’s biography and testimony as well as accompanying maps, photographs, books, websites, and lesson plans to place that survivor’s experience in historical context.

IWitness - USC Shoah Foundation

Essay Requirements

Focus/Goal-The focus of the essay is about Jewish resistance (in detail) in the ghetto during the Holocaust.


What type of resistance are you going to explore?


Choose type of resistance: armed or unarmed resistance


Listen to testimony on IWitness and find survivor or group of survivors that focus on the type of resistance you chose. 


Focus on the resistance -  resistance happened across the different ghettos. Do not focus on a specific ghetto!

Correlate the type of resistance you chose and match it with textual evidence of resistance from three of the articles in your notes (ex. Armed resistance in Vilana, Warsaw, etc).  You will independently choose one additional source from which you may draw textual evidence.  


Essays will be evaluated on historical accuracy, development of content and theme, original expression, grammar, and mechanics.


● Use evidence of comprehensive and accurate historical research.

● Utilize and cite information from at least 3 of the designated documents.

Find at least 1 additional database/scholarly source.

● Adhere to themes and demonstrate substantial supporting details.

● Write research in third person narrative.

● Synthesize information gathered from a variety of sources.

● Reflect personal insight, interpretation, and unique writing style with minimal direct quotes.



● Correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

● Proper citations-MLA.

● MLA Works Cited - Only sources cited in the body of the paper should appear on your list of works cited.  

● Typed double-spaced and size 12 font.



● Paragraph 1: Introduction

● Paragraph 2: What were the goals of the resistance in the Jewish Ghetto?

● Paragraph 3: What were the obstacles of the resistance in the Jewish Ghetto?

Paragraph 4: Testimony – How did Jewish people demonstrate resistance in their Ghetto?

● Paragraph 5: Reflection


*Required Resources: 4

3 from Spiral and 1 additional from database/scholarly source



Read with a Pen Annotating

Empathy and Compassion Lesson