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By the 1930s, Jewish life had existed in Europe for over 2,000 years. Despite facing expulsion, persecution and antisemitic rhetoric, Jews survived, sometimes through bribery for security or relocation to “safer” parts of Europe. 

While this survival tactic served them for centuries, the Nazi rise to power was swift and calculated. Though historians who study this time period can theorize about where and how the tragic death of six million Jews could have occurred, hindsight is 20/20. 

What the Jews of Europe endured was beyond their control. The reality is that there was nowhere to go, and escape was nearly impossible. With surrounding countries and borders closed to Jews, the pre-World War II European Jewish community of approximately nine million had only a tiny number of survivors to carry on Jewish tradition and continuity into the next generation. 

Special thanks to the Lustman family for supporting this project in honor of Jacob and Anna Lustman.

Big Ideas
  • There are different ways in which Jews resisted the Nazis (physical, spiritual, educational, cultural)
  • History can be interpreted differently based on different vantage points
  • The Nazis employed bloodless euphemisms to cloak their intentions and used collective punishment to prevent Jews from physically resisting.
Essential Questions
  • To what degree is it accurate to say that Jewish people passively allowed themselves to be killed by the Nazis and their collaborators? 
  • Why didn’t Jews flee the Nazis before the actual Holocaust began?
  • What are the various ways in which Jews resisted during and after the Holocaust?

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