Friends  |  Press Room  |  Contact Us

The Holocaust

The Holocaust Resource Center

Resistance In The Death Camps

The extraordinarily harsh conditions, existing in the Nazi camps made the possibility of forming any kind of organized resistance far more difficult than in the ghettos.  The vast majority of Jews who reached the extermination camps were sent almost immediately to their death. The rapidity with which this process took place did not allow them time to grasp the course of events and form any coordinated resistance.

Although in some instances Jews tried to confront the Nazis spontaneously upon arrival at the killing centers, organized resistance was only possible for the small percentage of Jews who were selected by the Nazis to help run the camps. These Jews did such jobs as sorting the murdered people's property, camouflaging the acts of murder, and even incinerating the bodies and cleaning the gas chambers. They were well aware of the extermination process and knew that a similar fate awaited them. Therefore, despite the indescribable difficulties, on several occasions they secretly tried to organize resistance and escape attempts.

Success of revolts in Nazi camps should not necessarily measured by the number of Jewish escapees, nor by the number of Nazis killed. More important is the fact that these attempts were made  to bear testimony to the World of the Nazi atrocities. Furthermore, they were an expression of the human dignity of the victims. The best-known uprisings took place in three extermination camps - Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz II (Birkenau).

Total Sources (by media type):

Diaries and Letters 1
Documents 1
Lexicon Entries 2
Photographs 2
Testimonies 3
   
Total Sources 9