Resisters: how ordinary Jews fought persecution in Hitler’s Germany

Public Lecture

Event Information and Booking

7th December, 2023
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Birkbeck, University of London, Clore Lecture Theatre, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1E 7JL
Wolf Gruner, University of Southern California
Free event – book your place below
Anti-Jewish laws, Antisemitism, History of German Jews, Nazi persecution, Pogrom, Resistance
Austria, Europe, Germany
20th century

In collaboration with the Holocaust and Genocide Research Partnership (The Wiener Holocaust Library and the Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London).

In this lecture, Professor Wolf Gruner will speak about his latest publication, Resisters: How Ordinary Jews Fought Persecution in Hitler’s Germany. 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 Professor 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-defence against verbal and physical attacks. Many of these courageous acts resulted in the resisters, men and women, 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.

Wolf Gruner is the Shapell Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of History at the University of Southern California. He is the founding Director of the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research, and the author of ten books on the Holocaust. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

A drinks reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

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