Symposium: Jews and Other Groups Who Resisted the Nazis: Means, Motivations, and Limitations

A Jewish partisan group in German-occupied Soviet territories, c. 1942-1944

This day-long symposium will probe what remains an under-examined topic in the history of World War II and the Holocaust: the multivarious paths through which ordinary men and women resisted the Nazis. While scholarship on the choices, backgrounds, and motivations of perpetrators and collaborators has become quite robust, it is only in recent years that resistance has received growing scholarly scrutiny.

At this interdisciplinary, comparative symposium, historians and sociologists focusing on a variety of locales from Eastern Europe, to France to North Africa to the Netherlands, will explore a range of subjects that illuminate distinctive paths of resistance, among both Jews and non-Jews. Through their case studies, they will illuminate how factors that include religious community and theology, proximate danger, pre-war political engagement, and social geography could become decisive in the choice and circumstances of resistance.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish StudiesHelen Diller Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion. Coordinated by Dr. Ethan Katz, Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies and 2022-2023 Matrix Faculty Fellow.



Arrivals: 9:30-10 AM

Welcome & Introduction: 10-10:15 AM – Ethan Katz (UC Berkeley History & Center for Jewish Studies)

First Panel: Religion and Resistance, 10:15-11:45 AM (Paper Presentations)

  • Robert Braun (UC Berkeley, Sociology & Center for Jewish Studies), “Religion and the Protection of Jews During the Holocaust: Evidence from the Netherlands”
  • Johanna Lehr (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), “Biblical resistance and the Reinvention of French Judaism Under the Occupation”
  • Moderator: Deena Aranoff (Graduate Theological Union, Jewish Studies)

Lunch break: 12-1:15 PM

Second Panel: Structures of Resistance, 1:30-3:30 PM (Works-in-Progress)

  • Rachel Einwohner (Purdue University, Sociology), “Certain-Risk Activism: Risk, Threat, and Participation in Jewish Resistance in Warsaw and Vilna”
  • Ethan Katz (UC Berkeley, History & Jewish Studies), “Paths of Resistance in Algiers: Family and Community as Decisive Factors”
  • Sarah Farmer (UC-Irvine, History), “Resistance and Rescue: Hidden Jews in Rural France”
  • Moderator: Alma Heckman (UC Santa Cruz, History & Jewish Studies)

Break (3:30-3:45 PM)

Concluding Roundtable (all participants), 3:45-4:15 PM



Image credit: A Jewish partisan group in German-occupied Soviet territories, c. 1942-1944. From the Wiener Holocaust Library Collections

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