The Power of Youth during the Holocaust
11 months ago Noah Roffe 0
Youth organizations have had an integral role in the preservation of Jewish beliefs throughout the years. Through physical action, and educational programming, youth organizations have helped teens make a difference in the world.
While Jewish youth organizations of any type have a tremendous impact on the community and on individuals, youth groups, and in my opinion, they had the most impact during the Holocaust.
In the early to mid-1900s, youth organizations were booming. Many of these youth movements were aligned with a government or political party. The most extreme and famous example is Hitler Youth – the youth movement in which Hitler used to indoctrinate the German teens. However, there were also many Jewish or Zionist youth groups during the time.
When the Nazis invaded Poland, Jewish teens banded together and reorganized as an underground network of resistance. They helped Jews escape their towns before the Nazis arrived to place them in Ghettos. When the final solution became known to the youth in the ghettos, the youth realized that they have no real chance of survival, and that physical resistance or escape was the only option they had. Some attempted to sneak out of the ghetto to join the Partisans, the Jewish resistance fighters, many of whom were leaders of youth groups. However, others formed local militias to start an uprising against the Nazi persecution. The most famous and strongest uprising ignited by teen was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
75 years ago from today, Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the JFO (Jewish Fighting Organization) in the Warsaw Ghetto, spearheaded the largest uprising against the Nazis in WWII. He and his followers successfully took control over the whole ghetto for 27 days, while battling off the Nazis. It is truly amazing that a group of Jews with little food, resources, or weaponry were able to fight against the Nazis.
The courageous rebellion started by the youth in the Warsaw Ghetto inspired other ghettos to follow lead.
Today on Yom Hashoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—we remember not only the six million Jews that were murdered, but also of the strength and perseverance of the Jewish nation. Even though the Nazi’s attempted to strip away our personal and national identities, we maintained our identity and pride. Even though we were outnumbered and unarmed, the teenagers of the time were able to launch a strong resistance. The youth of this time understood how strong they really were and how much potential they had. Let us remember their strength and let us use our own strength in combating the problems that the Jewish community face today.