Transnational perspectives on Jews in the resistance
in Fighters across frontiers
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This chapter focuses on the specific ‘war within the war’ fought by Jews in the Second World War, in both rescue and resistance organisations. The Jewish case is a powerful lens through which to study transnational resistance. As a diasporic population, in intensified flight from Nazism in the 1930s, Jews were already on the move. Many came from multi-ethnic, multilingual pockets of the ‘shatter zone’ such as Galicia, Bukovina and Bessarabia, and suffered persecution at the hands of revived nation-states such as Poland and Romania. Others were organised internationally, members of the international communist movement and Comintern or of Zionist bodies. In Nazi- and fascist-occupied Europe they lost their rights, becoming second-class citizens or stateless, and were despoiled, interned and deported. They were not only caught up in the war but fought their own war for survival within it. This chapter concentrates on the two cases of France and Yugoslavia, to where many Jews had fled before the German and Italian invasions of 1940–41 and where – if they were not rounded up – they played a key role in transnational rescue and resistance, in exile, underground or both. This included working with international rescue organisations such as the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), working with the British secret services and the Free French, and involvement in communist-led units such as Travail Allemand which aimed to persuade German soldiers to desert, or in armed resistance or partisan groups in both France and Yugoslavia.

Fighters across frontiers

Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48

Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames


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