Evading the Holocaust

The Unexplored Continent of Holocaust Historiography
  • Gunnar S. Paulsson


IN 1961, Raul Hilberg proposed five categories of responses by victims of the Holocaust (indeed, by victims in general): resistance, alleviation, evasion, paralysis, and compliance.1 These have not received equal attention from historians. Hilberg himself emphasized the passive responses — paralysis and especially compliance — ingrained according to him as the result of many centuries of life in exile. In particular, he asserted controversially that ‘[t]he reaction pattern of the Jews is characterized by an almost complete lack of resistance’.2 Hannah Arendt went further, declaring that ‘without Jewish help in administrative and police work […] there would have been either complete chaos or an impossibly severe drain on German manpower’,3 from which she concluded notoriously that ‘… if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, […] the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people’.4


Civil Disobedience Hiding Place Holocaust Survivor Labour Camp Armed Resistance 
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  1. 1.
    Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (London: Holmes & Meier, 1985) 22 and 1030; henceforth Hilberg (1985).Google Scholar
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    Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago: Quadrangle, 1967), 662; henceforth Hilberg (1967). This statement is reiterated in Hilberg (1985) at p.1030.Google Scholar
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  8. 13.
    For example, Bob Moore, Victims and Survivors (London: Arnold, 1997);Google Scholar
  9. Jacob Presser, Ashes in the Wind (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988). Moore cites recent estimates that 24–25,000 Dutch Jews went into hiding, of whom 16–17,000 survived, but describes these estimate as ‘problematic’ (p. 146). Among other things, these figures appear to include people who were exempted from deportation, of whom there were 15,632 in April 1943 (p. 103). Most but not all of these exemptions were eventually cancelled, and some holders of exemptions went into hiding in anticipation that they would lose theirs as well. Both Moore and Presser state that the majority of those in hiding were concentrated in Amsterdam, but neither ventures an estimate.Google Scholar
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  22. 41.
    Philip Friedman, ‘Extermination of the Polish Jews in German-Occupied Poland, 1939–1945’, in Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publications Society of America, 1980), ed. Ada June Friedman, 235–236. Friedman estimates that 40–50,000 Jews survived ‘on the soil of Poland’, and indicates that this number includes people who survived in ‘family camps’, as partisans, and who were liberated in German labour camps on Polish soil (principally the Hasag camp near Częstochowa.) On this basis, other authors have reduced the number of survivors ‘on the Aryan side’ to 30,000 or even 20,000. However there are numerous other categories of survivors ‘on the Aryan side’ who must be taken into account, among them: those who did not register as Jews after the war, particularly Jewish orphans being raised by Catholic families; those who survived as ‘Aryans’ in camps in Germany, particularly about 7,000 Warsaw Jews who were deported to these camps after the 1944 uprising, and various smaller categories, such as those who enlisted in the Berling army and ended the war in Germany. The number of non-registered survivors in particular is very difficult to estimate, since many Jewish children raised by Polish families remain unaware of their identity to this day. At a rather conservative guess, these categories of survivors may be estimated to number 20–30,000, bringing the total number of survivors ‘on the Aryan side’ to about 40–60,000.Google Scholar
  23. 42.
    Adam Hempel, Pogrobowcy kleski: Rzecz o policji ‘granatowej’ w Generalnym Gubematorstwie 1939–1945 (Warszawa: PWN, 1990) 175–176. For a less apologetic study of the ‘Blue’ police, vide Marek Getter, ‘Policja granatowa w Warszawie, 1939–1944’, Studia Warszawkie (vol.8) 215–237.Google Scholar
  24. 43.
    Michal Weichert, Yidishe aleinhilf 1939–1945 (Tel Aviv: Menorah, 1962).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Gunnar S. Paulsson

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