Approximate Jewish Partisan activity marked in yellow.
Soviet Union

Fewer ghettos were established in Russia than in other occupied countries. Many Russian Jews were killed by the Einzatgruppen, the mobile Nazi killing units or in the camps. In Byelorussia, it is estimated that thousands of Jewish partisans escaped the Minsk ghetto into the forests of Slutsk and Koydanov, where they formed seven companies of fighters. According to one estimate, 11,000 Russian Jewish partisans fought in Byelorussia and western Ukraine alone. Others have estimated the number to be between 12,000 to 15,000-the greatest concentration of Jewish partisans in the movement.

Without the aid of Soviet partisans, the chances of survival for the Jewish partisans were very slim. Beyond the barbed wire and sentries of the ghettos, there were spies in the villages, armed sentries on bridges and on roads leading to the forests, ambushes, or the likelihood of being turned in by peasants paid to inform by the Nazi authorities. Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian guerilla bands were often as hostile as the Nazis, and freely killed Jews.

Joining a Soviet partisan group was extremely difficult. The first requirement was have a weapon, an extremely rare commodity for a Jew to find. Russian Jews who joined Soviet partisan groups often banded together to form all Jewish or mostly Jewish units, as some of the Soviet partisans were antisemitic. As the Soviet partisan movement grew and expanded Jewish units were absorbed into others.

While all-Jewish groups were opposed by the Soviet command, persecution of Jews from within the Soviet partisans was also opposed. In many cases, Jews thwarted the antisemitism by hiding their Jewish identity in order to join. Some also fought as members of independent all-Jewish groups, forming ties with nearby Soviet partisans. Byelorussian Jewish partisan leader Tuvia Bielski and his brothers, for example, combined resistance and rescue to form one of the largest groups of Jewish partisans anywhere. The Bielski group gave shelter to all those who could not fight. At the end of the war, there were 1,200 men, women and children in the camp.

Find out who the partisans were and how they fought the Nazis. Go to the Films section to view the film that compliments this study guide.

Not a study guide at all, but a document for communities wanting to acknowledge the intenet of Holoucast Rememberacne Day as it was started in Israel, in 1951. Includes a brief history and reading.

Learn how the partisans fought hunger and survived the harsh winter cold. How did they survive? Go to the Films section to view the film that compliments this study guide.

Learn how a determined Ben helped initially free 600 Jews from a Nazi work camp. Go to the Films section to view the film that compliments this study guide.

Find out how a woman partisan earns one of the Soviet Unions highest honors. Go to the Films section to view the film that compliments this study guide.

Meet Frank, a determined fighter who escaped the ghettos and valiantly fought against his oppressors. Go to the Films section to view the film that compliments this study guide.

Many Jews suffered from antisemtism in the partisans, even though they were fighting a common enemy. Read this study guide to learn about the role antisemitism played in and out of the partisan units and how it differed from region to region.