Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Jewish Couriers: The Forgotten Heroes of the Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust

Ämne: History, Gender Studies, Social Studies
Projektledare: Sylwia Szymańska-Smolkin
Startår: 2022
Projekttyp: Projekt
Beviljade medel: 2 594 000 kr

How was information disseminated and received in and between ghettos in Nazi-occupied Poland? Was knowledge sharing inside and outside the ghettos an act of resistance? This three-year project aims to answer these questions by investigating the role of Jewish couriers in establishing contacts and networks between Jewish communities in Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1943. It examines documents produced in five major ghettos (Warsaw, Cracow, Vilna, Bialystok and Grodno) to determine how the couriers obtained and disseminated information about the Holocaust across occupied Poland. The project will also answer the following research questions: What impact did the knowledge have on Jews in the above-mentioned ghettos? What role did Jewish couriers play in establishing the underground movement and organizing resistance? Most of the scholarly works on Jewish resistance are concerned with forms of armed struggle (Arad 1980, Gutman 1994). This project challenges this restrictive view of what constitutes ‘resistance’ and suggests widening the scope beyond direct combat. It broadens our understanding of survival and resistance in the context of Nazi genocidal policies. This gender-inflected research will explore the missions, challenges and accomplishments of couriers. It also recognises the influence of social and cultural backgrounds and addresses the importance of the age, education and social milieu of the couriers.