Beyond Courage: The Untold Sto­ry of Jew­ish Resis­tance Dur­ing the Holocaust

Doreen Rap­pa­port
  • Review
By – April 30, 2012

In the course of grow­ing up in a Jew­ish home, Doreen Rap­pa­port repeat­ed­ly heard that dur­ing the Holo­caust Jews went like lambs to the slaugh­ter.” Her book, Beyond Courage, is based on six years of exten­sive research and aims to prove oth­er­wise, over and over again. Jews resist­ed Nazis with upris­ings and escapes and rebel­lions,” she notes in her intro­duc­tion. But resis­tance is not defined just by dra­mat­ic, mil­i­tant events like these.” 

Her book doc­u­ments some of those resis­tance sto­ries in writ­ing that is clear, elo­quent and hon­est. The sto­ries intro­duce us to indi­vid­ual resisters by plac­ing us in the con­text of each life and allow­ing us to see the unfold­ing events through their eyes. Rap­pa­port describes Wal­ter Suskind, 36, and how his flu­ent Ger­man allowed him to ingra­ti­ate him­self with a Nazi com­man­der and spend hours with him drink­ing gin and telling jokes. As the com­man­der became dis­tract­ed, anoth­er mem­ber of the Jew­ish under­ground rearranged file cards to make Jew­ish chil­dren dis­ap­pear from the records. Suskind was aware that most Jews did not under­stand why he was so friend­ly with a Nazi and even believed he was a col­lab­o­ra­tor. Nev­er­the­less, he kept up the pre­tense because it was essen­tial to the suc­cess of the res­cue oper­a­tion,” Rap­pa­port writes. 

Beyond Courage is full of the kinds of sto­ries that give you goose­flesh and Rap­pa­port presents the faces of many of indi­vid­u­als involved in var­i­ous forms of resis­tance. What is strik­ing about their images is that, apart from the dat­ed attire, they look just like you and me —a reminder that tremen­dous acts of courage were car­ried out by ordi­nary peo­ple who took a stand under extra­or­di­nar­i­ly dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. Rap­pa­port is to be com­mend­ed on a book devot­ed pure­ly to those acts of courage, rec­og­niz­ing and remem­ber­ing the Jew­ish heroes of our no-too-dis­tant past. 

Relat­ed Content:

Lau­ren Kramer is a Van­cou­ver-based jour­nal­ist, wife, and moth­er with a life­long pas­sion for lit­er­a­ture. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writ­ing and report­ed from many cor­ners of the world. Read more of her work at www​.lau​renkramer​.net.

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