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Primary Sources: The Holocaust: Resistance, Rescue, Refugees
Primary resources related to the Holocaust during World War II 1939-1945
Despite the strength of the armed and powerful Nazis, there were Jews who resisted. However, there were also many obstacles to resistance. Methods used to resist the Nazis included armed resistance as well as moral, spiritual, economic, cultural and political resistance.
"President Roosevelt writes here of a plan to settle refugee Jews – far away from Europe, far away from the United States and far away, it would appear, from reality. They ought to pay the Venezuelan government, he suggests, to allow them to colonize a “little explored” section of that country’s interior. "
known as the “House” – is not only the first Holocaust museum in the world but also the first of its kind to be founded by Holocaust survivors. Since its establishment in 1949, the museum tells the story of the Holocaust during World War II, emphasizing the bravery, spiritual triumph and the incredible ability of Holocaust survivors and the fighters of the revolt to rebuild their lives in a new country about which they had dreamed – the State of Israel.
This collection chronicles the activities and issues involved in the Roosevelt Administration's policies concerning the reception of Jews and other refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Instead of opening its doors, the U.S. government created a bureaucratic barrier, which prevented most refugees from entering the country before and during World War II. Not until 1944 did the United States respond with belated rescue efforts to stop the genocide of European Jews and other groups. This was a full two years after the Wannsee Conference in Berlin that laid out the comprehensive plan for the extermination of European Jewry. On January 22, 1944, President Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board (WRB) to provide rescue and relief for Jews and other persons in danger of death in Nazi-occupied Europe.
" In 1939, the Rev. Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and his wife, Martha, a social worker, agreed to travel to Prague to investigate reports of a humanitarian crisis. From these humble but brave beginnings, the Unitarian Service Committee was born. During and after World War II, the Service Committee aided hundreds of displaced persons in Europe. They established food and clothing distribution centers, hospitals, and homes for children. They also aided hundreds of people in their efforts to leave war-torn Europe and establish new lives for themselves in the United States.
The Andover-Harvard Theological Library is the official archive for the records of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). In a project jointly funded by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine in Paris, the library completed a massive digitization project of roughly 257 boxes of archival UUSC material dating from 1939 to 1967. In total, about 238,000 documents and 3,100 photographs were scanned. Digitizing this material has helped to preserve it for future generations, and has made it available to researchers throughout the world. "
Most people have never heard of the 20,000-30,000 Jews who fought back against the Nazis as Jewish partisans. These Jews were responsible for blowing up thousands of armored convoys and thwarting the Nazi war machine in countless ways, including rescuing people from the ghettos, procuring food and medicine, tending to wounded soldiers, sabotaging German communications and supply lines, punishing collaborators, sheltering civilians and saving thousands of Jewish lives. Learning about who these partisans were and what they accomplished has the power to transform people's perception of the Jewish experience during the Holocaust.
The Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation (JPEF) has produced a comprehensive and thought-provoking curriculum called RESIST, designed to transmit the enduring understandings arising from the stories of the Jewish partisans. With layers of interactivity unprecedented in most any curriculum, RESIST is designed for 6th – 12th grade students in formal and informal settings and is implemented in Jewish and secular schools worldwide.
In May 1939 the S.S. St. Louis left the port of Hamburg bound for Cuba, carrying more than 900 Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Although the refugees had visas, the Cuban government turned them away. The St. Louis then tried to dock in Miami, but U.S. immigration officials also denied entry to the refugees. Finally, the ship turned back toward Europe, landing at Antwerp, where 200 passengers were granted entry into Belgium. The remaining passengers disembarked at Amsterdam, where many of them were captured when Hitler invaded the Netherlands in May 1940.
The following document is just one of a unique collection of 365 eyewitness testimonies gathered in the days, weeks, and months following the November Pogrom of 1938, alternatively known as ‘Kristallnacht’ or the ‘Night of Broken Glass’. At the time, Alfred Wiener, the German-Jewish founder of The Wiener Library, was heading the Central Jewish Information Office (JCIO) in Amsterdam, which had been a place of refuge for him and his colleagues since 1933. Although no records exist of the methodology for gathering this specific set of testimonies, Wiener Library staff speculate that they were sourced using the JCIO’s several usual modes of information gathering: face to face interviews, telephone conversations, letters and written reports, selecting and cropping newspaper articles, and obtaining informal intelligence via conversations and correspondence with other organisations and contacts.
This particular document may not be what one normally has in mind when one thinks of a ‘testimony’. Rather than being a personal narrative, it consists of a series of transcribed letters written by children while in transit on the first Kindertransport on 1 December 1938. The letters are addressed to their families back in Germany while the children are leaving them behind for the safety of England. They were subsequently transcribed by an anonymous source and sent to the JCIO by somebody who identified himself as Herr Flörsheim (or Mr Flörsheim) from Amsterdam. Beyond those few details, nothing is known about the specific provenance of this item or the individual children who wrote the letters themselves.
Lucille's father died three months before she was born. Lucille's mother decided to immigrate to the United States with Lucille and her sister, Fejga. They completed all the paperwork, but were unable to get their final papers because of the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Volozhin was in the Soviet-occupied zone of Poland. Lucille and her sister feared arrest by the Soviets because they were members of a Jewish Zionist youth group. The girls fled to Vilna, where their mother later joined them. Their American immigration papers were forwarded to the consulate in Kovno. Lucille and her sister traveled to Kovno for those papers and also succeeded in obtaining Japanese transit visas. They left Vilna, traveling by the Trans-Siberian Express, and arrived in Japan in September 1940. In November 1940, they arrived in the United States. Their mother joined them a year later.
"In 1942 Hans Scholl, a medical student at the University of Munich, his sister Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, Willi Graf, and Alexander Schmorell founded the “White Rose” movement, one of the few German groups that spoke out against Nazi genocidal policies." https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/white-rose
Presents primary sources related to the ship The Quanza, " a Portuguese ship that sailed on August 8, 1940, from Lisbon, Portugal, bound for Veracruz, Mexico, with more than 300 passengers on board. Many of the passengers were Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Europe. Desperate to leave Europe, some of them carried forged visas for the United States and Mexico."
The interviews cover a very wide spectrum of experiences, including those of refugees who escaped to Britain before the outbreak of war in 1939, those who survived in hiding in occupied Europe, and those who survived the camps. Of the first 150 interviews, 71 were conducted with men and 79 with women, the biggest groups of interviewees were born in Berlin (31) and Vienna (25), 35 interviewees had come to Britain on a Kindertransport. 67 interviewees were over 80 when we interviewed them, the oldest interviewee is 97 years old and the youngest was 64. The interviews conducted from 2015 onwards include more child survivors and younger Kindertransportees and children who had come to the UK with their parents.
"In 1963 Yad Vashem embarked upon a worldwide project to pay tribute to the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. This represents a unique and unprecedented attempt by the victims to honor individuals from within the nations of perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders, who stood by the victims' side and acted in stark contrast to the mainstream of indifference and hostility that prevailed in the darkest time of history."
"This digital collection consists of documents selected from across the holdings of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library archives related to the Holocaust, and to refugee issues in Europe and the United States throughout the 1930s and World War II."
"The newest activity in IWitness provides students with an opportunity to learn about the ill-fated voyage of the MS St. Louis in 1939. Students hear how the events affected individuals, especially children and teenagers who were on the ship, and construct a video project that identifies turning points in the journey through passengers' testimonies and photographs.
“Voyage of the St. Louis: From Hope to Despair” begins with clips of survivors Liesl Loeb and Sol Messinger. Loeb talks about the immigration quotas in the United States that limited the number of Jewish refugees allowed into the country. Messinger describes being on the St. Louis as a child; he remembers the voyage itself being surprisingly pleasant, but pandemonium broke out on the ship once the passengers learned their visas had been revoked in Cuba."
The two surviving Bielski Brothers, who agreed to be interviewed for the first time in this program, explain how their unit was organized, and what life was like for the partisans in their four-year battle to survive and to seek revenge.
Book Sources: Resistance, Rescue, Refugees
A selection of books/e-books available in Trible Library.
Click the title for location and availability information.
v. 5. Jewish emigration from 1933 to the Evian Conference of 1938 -- v. 6. Jewish emigration, 1938-1940, Rublee negotiations, and the Intergovernmental Committee -- v. 7. Jewish emigration : the S.S. St. Louis affair and other cases -- v. 8. Deportation of the Jews to the east : Stettin 1940 to Hungary 1944 v. 14. Relief and rescue of Jews from Nazi oppression, 1943-1945 -- v. 15. Relief in Hungary and the failure of the Joel Brand mission -- v. 16. Rescue to Switzerland : the Mussy and Saly Mayer affairs
Assuming that the broad historical context is well enough known, the film concentrates on individual stories, using archival film clips and photographs, re-enactments and interviews, with both the rescuers and the rescued.
"Discusses the Kindertransport, including the people who organized the operation, how the transports worked, the children's lives who escaped on a transport, and how ten thousand children were saved from the Holocaust"--Provided by publisher.
The incredible true story follows the enigmatic Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is the triumph of one man who made a difference and the drama of those who survived one of the darkest chapters in human history because of what he did.
Note Special features include: Voices from the List, feature length documentary with testimonies and archival footage; USC Shoah Foundation story with Steven Spielberg, a behind the scenes look; and more.