Jonah's Tour

Were the Jews able to fight back?

Jude Levitt hides supplies in the well

Photo: Judke (Yehuda) Levitt hides supplies in the well. Jews in the Kovno ghetto started to build and prepare hideouts, bunkers (melinas) for storage of food, medicine, guns, etc. 1942, Kaunas, Lithuania.

Photo credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of George Kadish/Zvi Kadushin.

The most famous physical resistance is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising that took place on April 19, 1943. Jews managed to fight the Nazis for several weeks using weapons that were smuggled into the ghetto. While the Jews knew that they would be unsuccessful at defeating the Nazis, they were able to show their resistance and fight to their deaths. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising inspired Jews at other ghettos and concentration camps to plan their own uprisings. 

In the ghettos, smuggling operations brought in food and medicine needed to survive. Schools, soup kitchens, orphanages, and hospitals were created. Jews kept diaries and records that documented their experiences to provide proof of their lives and oppression. In the concentration camps, prisoners tried to help one another survive. Many Jews secretly celebrated the Jewish holidays.