Wednesday, November 12, 2008

resistance on rosenstrasse

a story from the shoah that i had not heard before - a group of jews (mostly men) who were married to non-jews had been arrested in anticipation of being sent to auschwitz. they were detained in a building on rosenstrasse. when the news broke, the spouses rushed to the site. it is reported:

"A protest broke out. The women who had gathered by the hundreds at the gate of the improvised detention center began to call out together in a chorus, "Give us our husbands back." They held their protest day and night for a week, as the crowd grew larger day by day.

On different occasions the armed guards between the women and the building imprisoning their loved ones barked a command: "Clear the street or we'll shoot!" This sent the women scrambling pell-mell into the alleys and courtyards in the area. But within minutes they began streaming out again, inexorably drawn to their loved ones. Again and again they were scattered, and again and again they advanced, massed together, and called for their husbands, who heard them and took hope.

The square, according to one witness, "was crammed with people, and the demanding, accusing cries of the women rose above the noise of the traffic like passionate avowals of a love strengthened by the bitterness of life." One woman described her feeling as a protester on the street as one of incredible solidarity with those sharing her fate. Normally people were afraid to show dissent, fearing denunciation, but on the street they knew they were among friends, because they were risking death together. A Gestapo man who no doubt would have heartlessly done his part to deport the Jews imprisoned in the Rosenstra├če was so impressed by the people on the streets that, holding up his hands in a victory clasp of solidarity with a Jew about to be released, he pronounced proudly: "You will be released, your relatives protested for you. That is German loyalty.""

the rest of the report is here
i discovered the story in a blog on jewcy, which you can find here.
ny times movie review

my first reaction is wow, look what these women did, and if they could do this, howcome other groups of non-jews did not fight back in similar ways?

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