Home Featured The Jews Who Fought Back – Commentary Magazine

The Jews Who Fought Back – Commentary Magazine

The Jews Who Fought Back – Commentary Magazine

About fifteen minutes into the new documentary Resistance, the late Professor Richard Freund approaches a glass case with a century-old milk jug inside. The jug is corroded and rusted and the color of the dark stone walls around it. Inside the unremarkable container was hidden something remarkable: a large part of the contemporaneously written account of life in the Warsaw Ghetto. “It’s the equivalent of, for the first time, seeing the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Freund says. “The difference is this is so close to our own era, and to know that Jews have been documenting and preserved it, like a message in a bottle, for future generations.”

Resistance: They Fought Back, directed by Paula Apsell and Kirk Wolfinger and written by Apsell and Jay Owens, spends a lot of time on the written word. It’s the story of Jews who fought the Nazi murder machine, and while there is a section dedicated to the much-heralded armed partisans in the forests of Belarus, made famous in movies like Defiance, the lesson of the film is that spiritual and intellectual resistance are prerequisites to effective armed rebellion—and that the Jews of Europe excelled across all three. “People have this myth stuck in their heads that the Jews went to their deaths like sheep to the slaughter.” A myth is exactly what it was.

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