Those Who Resisted….But More Importantly Those Who Survived

June 23, 2010

Throughout the trip I think too often I focused upon those who suffered and died.  After going through the Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt, resistance for some Germans and Jews were made real.  It is easy to look at pictures in museums or read information from books, but experiencing the actual place where Jews worked and hid really made an impact on me—it gave true meaning to resistance during this time.  As I walked through the museum, actual brushes that the factory made were present; real passports and photographs were presented.  But it was a big picture of Otto Weidt himself and his staff that pulled me into the exhibit.  The very place I was standing was where most of these workers walked and stood.  Looking closer at the picture, you can actually see a few smiles here and there, which I scarcely have seen of Jews at this time in history.  Smiles must be a sign of some happiness.

Otto Weidt and his staff

Otto Weidt treated his employees as though they were irreplaceable and did everything in his power to save his workers.  He even went so far as to falsify documents and personally went to concentration camps to get them!  As tensions rose in Germany, Weidt went a step further and hid an entire family behind a closet.  Looking within the space the family lived in, it was an eerie feeling to know that a group of people were forced to live in such a confined space, fearing for their life every second of every day, in order to survive.

Actual Room Where Weidt Hid a Family in his Shop

Hiding and working in the shop was a tool for resistance.  As a German, Weidt resisted by doing all he could to save as many Jews as he could—especially those most vulnerable like the deaf and blind.  He put his life on the line for doing what was right.  I honestly wonder how so many Germans turned the other way or ignored all the atrocities that were going on?  Sure, the Nazis threatened anyone who defied their authority but living with the guilt that you did nothing is almost worse.  The Jews that worked and hid in the shop was a clear act of resistance as well.  They did not except their fate that the Nazis had planned out for them.  They needed to survive—survival was the ultimate resistance that I think a Jew could accomplish.

This particular exhibit is different than the rest in that it was developed out of a student project.  I really love that German students started this and developed it into what it is today; I wish more things like this were done in the United States to commemorate American Indians, slaves, and Americans who helped to resist and survived.  Methods of resistance in U.S. history are a rare story told throughout our education.  These stories could be used as a tool to help educate and facilitate understanding for the American community.  It would widen the scope of American history for the slaves and American Indians and turn the focus of victimization to resistance and survival.


One comment

  1. I love this sentence “survival was the ultimate resistance that I think a Jew could accomplish”. It really turns victims into resistance fighters. I think we owe it to the Jewish people of Europe to acknowledge their resistance as well and not see them as mere victims. When Holocaust survivors went to Israel, for many years the local Jewish population looked down on them, as weak individuals who did not do anything against their murderers. Well, they did, as you rightly point out, they survived.

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