The Sonderkommando--the "special squad" of enslaved Jewish laborers who were forced to work in the gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau--comprise one of the most fascinating and troubling topics within Holocaust history. As eyewitnesses to and unwilling abettors of the murder of their fellow Jews, they are the object of fierce condemnation even today. Yet it was a group of these seemingly compromised men who carried out the revolt of October 7, 1944, one of the most celebrated acts of Holocaust resistance. Testimonies of Resistance: Representations of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Sonderkommando (Berghahn Books, 2019), edited by Nicholas Chare and Dominic Williams, assembles careful investigations into how the Sonderkommando have been represented-by themselves and by others-both during and after the Holocaust.
Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com