Fighting Back: A Memoir of Jewish Resistance in World War II

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9780231078825: Fighting Back: A Memoir of Jewish Resistance in World War II
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"Why didn't the Jews resist being rounded up and sent to concentration camps? Why did they go like lambs to the slaughter?" were the questions Harold Werner's sons asked about the Holocaust while they were growing up. Written to dispel the myth of Jewish passivity, Fighting Back is more than the tale of survival: it is the extraordinary memoir of a survivor who outlasted Hitler's Holocaust, not in a concentration camp but in the woods of eastern Poland as a fighter in a successful Jewish resistance group during the Second World War.
In this book Harold Werner recounts his experiences as a member of a large Jewish partisan unit that aggressively conducted military missions against the German army in occupied Poland. The unit of young Jews--both men and women--received air drops from the Russians, wiped out local German garrisons, blew up German trains, and even shot down German planes. In addition to engaging in military sabotage, these partisans rescued Jews from ghetto imprisonment and slave labor detail, and provided a safe haven in the Parczew Forest for other Jews who escaped the Nazi extermination camps.
By the time the Russians liberated eastern Poland, the unit consisted of about four hundred fighters and four hundred noncombatant Jews under their protection. Few accounts of Jewish survival during the Holocaust describe such a rare combination of victorious military activities and humanitarian efforts in successful large-scale Jewish resistance against the Nazis.
Not only is Fighting Back a way of understanding Jewish struggles against terrifying odds, it provides rare vignettes of life in Jewish shtetls, or small towns, before the Holocaust wiped them out. In describing his childhood years, Werner provides a flavor of that extinct society--as rich in tradition, religion, and learning as it was poor in material possessions.
Harold Werner's compelling work is a moving portrayal of the difficulties faced by Eastern European Jews trying to fight the Nazi campaign of annihilation during the Second World War. It also provides valuable insights into the current dispute over the degree of Polish complicity in that campaign. Included is a foreword by Martin Gilbert, author of The Holocaust: The History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War.

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Book Description:

An authoritative account of the Jewish Resistance during World War II.

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The Jewish partisan unit to which Werner, who died in 1989, belonged--some 400 men and women led by a man named Chiel Grynszpan--operated in the woods of eastern Poland during WW II. Grynszpan's guerrillas performed acts of sabotage against the Germans (blowing up trains, convoys, bridges) and rescued Jews from the Wlodawa ghetto. When the Germans retreated, the Jewish partisans executed Polish civilians who had betrayed Jews in hiding to the Germans during the occupation. The most awesome aspect of this memoir is its stark depiction of the ferocious Polish anti-Semitism before and during the war. Nor did it abate after the war. Werner, who emigrated to the U.S., learned that two of his brothers had been clubbed to death by villagers when they returned to their homes. Told in simple, direct, unemotional language, the book is a valuable document that preserves a record of successful Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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9780231078832: Fighting Back

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ISBN 10:  0231078838 ISBN 13:  9780231078832
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 1994
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