In almost every archive in Europe, researchers can find countless petitions written by Jews under Nazi persecution. Historians have long neglected those thousands and thousands of entreaties as written in vain. New research demands a reassessment of these letters as acts of resistance as they often go beyond just requesting exceptions from discriminatory measures. Rereading those petitions revealed that Jewish men and women openly protested Nazi persecution and re-claimed their identities as Germans and Austrians, as citizens and as valuable contributors to their home countries. This research is part of a larger reevaluation of Jewish resistance, redefining it by including and emphasizing acts of individual resistance.
Wolf Gruner is the Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and professor of history at the University of Southern California (USC). In 2014, he became the founding director of the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research (previously USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research). He is a specialist in German-Jewish history, Holocaust and comparative genocide studies, topics on which he authored ten books and over 70 articles and book chapters. His most recent publication is the prizewinning “Holocaust in Bohemia and Moravia. Czech Initiatives, German Policies and Jewish responses” (2019). He just finished a book manuscript “’Impudent Jews’. Forgotten stories of individual Jewish resistance in Hitler’s Germany”. He also coedited four volumes, including “Resisting Persecution. Jews and their Petitions during the Holocaust (2020)”.
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