Wolf GrunerAug 29, 2023
How Ordinary Jews Fought Persecution in Hitler's Germany
Yale University Press 2023
Today I talked to Wolf Gruner about his new book Resisters: How Ordinary Jews Fought Persecution in Hitler's Germany (Yale UP, 2023).
Drawing on twelve years of research in dozens of archives in Austria, Germany, Israel, and the United States, this book tells the story of five Jewish people--a merchant, a homemaker, a real estate broker, and two teenagers--who bravely resisted persecution and defended themselves in Nazi Germany. These stories have not been told until now, and each case is one of many, as Gruner shows by resurfacing similar accounts of Jewish refusal to accept persecution and violence in Germany and Austria between 1933 and 1943, upending the notion of passive Jews and expanding the concept of resistance.
Each individual described here represents a category of resistance: written opposition, oral protest, contesting Nazi propaganda, defiance of anti-Jewish laws and measures, and self-defense against physical attacks. Many of these courageous acts resulted in the resisters being prosecuted and put on trial, and often receiving harsh punishments, while some led to acquittal by courts and others to changes in Nazi policies. Taken together, these accounts reframe our understanding of German Jewish attitudes during the Holocaust, while also providing an astonishing examination of the complex Nazi reactions to the many individual acts of Jewish resistance.