“Groups of organized guerilla fighters operating in enemy-occupied territory. During World War II, partisans in Nazi-occupied Europe were mainly active in Eastern Europe, but there was also partisan activity in Yugoslavia, Greece, Slovakia, and Western European countries such as France and Italy.”
“Despite the fact that there was no independent Jewish partisan movement in Europe during the Nazi reign of terror, many Jews did operate as partisans, whether as part of individual Jewish units or as members of non-Jewish units. Jewish and non-Jewish partisans were different in several ways. Non-Jewish partisans joined the fight either as ultra-nationalists, who wanted to rid their countries of all foreigners (Nazis and Jews) or as socialist-leftists, who wanted to combat Fascism. They had left their families at home in a relatively safe environment, generally expecting to return to them after the war. The Jewish partisans were not fighting for an ideal, such as nationalism or antifascism-the Jewish partisans were fighting for their lives. Jewish partisans believed that they would never see home or family again, especially since most of their families had already been slaughtered by the Nazis.
“Furthermore, non-Jewish partisans had support and believed that as patriotic citizens doing their duty for their country, they could rely on local farmers to provide them with food and supplies. Not so the Jews. Jewish partisans could not rely on the locals, who often hated the Jews as much as the Nazis did. The Jewish partisan was a stranger, and had a very slight chance of actually surviving in the forest.”
Yad Vashem. Photo Archives.
Shoah Resource Center, The International 2/3 School for Holocaust Studies