Youth Movements

Jewish youth movements played a significant role in the political, social and cultural life of European Jewry under Nazi occupation, filling a vacuum left by the deportation and murder of many older, established Jewish communal leaders. Throughout the war, whilst incarcerated behind ghetto walls, the primary political aims of youth movements (such as, emigration to Palestine and joining kibbutzim) became impossible to achieve and even obsolete. Therefore, the leaderships of the various youth movements, such as, the Bund, Dror and Hashomer Hatzair, re-channelled their Movements’ energies into community activities such as social welfare, Jewish education and cultural affairs. Many of these activities were clandestine,. In time, ideas were crystallised and preparations made for anti-Nazi revolts. After learning of the mass murder of Jews in Nazi-occupied territories, and in the wake of the mass deportations of Jews to the death camps from 1942 onwards, these Movements turned into the nuclei for armed Jewish resistance against the Nazis. The various ghetto uprisings were led and fought by young commanders and fighters. The most well-known of these youth-based revolts was the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in April and May 1943.