In Defiance: Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust

Exhibition TypeIn-house exhibition
Event DateOctober 23, 2008–May 22, 2009
VenueVancouver Holocaust Education Centre
DescriptionDocumentary traces of the Holocaustincluding diaries, letters, clandestine wartime publications and post-war eyewitness narrativesillustrate the range of Jewish reactions to Nazi efforts to annihilate the Jewish people. As Nazi power expanded across Europe, Jews actively responded to changing circumstances. They participated in individual and collective resistance in ghettos, in slave labour camps and even in concentration camps. While some took part in armed resistance, others acted in the arena of daily life. Jews fought to survive and help others to survive. They tried to perpetuate their culture in the face of attempted erasure and struggled to maintain their dignity in the face of dehumanization. Jews forged identity documents, observed religious holidays and rituals and organized clandestine schools for children. 

The significance of such acts of defiance must be considered against the obstacles that made resistance to the Nazis both difficult and dangerous. Given the conditions Jews faced, perhaps what is surprising is not how little resistance there was, but rather how much. 

In Defiance draws on artefacts and testimonies of survivors who settled in Canada after the war. The stories of Adele Balla, Leon Kahn, Sara Rozenberg-Warm, Rebecca Teitelbaum, and Rudolf Vrba speak to the diversity of Jewish responses to Nazism. Their actions reflect Jewish efforts to maintain their humanity, preserve their past, sabotage Nazi war efforts, document unimaginable events and save lives.