I agree with you that besides the big battles of WW2 there were many armed resistance heroic actions that deserve to be known better.
Like the big battles, the annihilation of the Jews of Europe dominated the collective memory as a major chapters of WW2. The resistance of the Jews and their contribution to the war effort against the Nazis are not well known enough.
To avoid resistance, the Nazis organized the extermination in such a way that people were not aware that they are going to be murdered. When the first rumors about the gas chambers reached the ghettos, people could not believe and did not want to believe them.It will forever remain a mystery to me how: when from the killing fields all over Poland (cf. Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning, for example), to the Einsatzgruppen and Teilkommando, to Dirlewanger, the gas vans/chambers etc etc.; that how the Jews to be 'liquidated' were almost peacefully led to the pits of Babi Yar, or into the more 'humane' factories of death - why did they not resist?
The cynic might possibly say, look at the Warsaw Uprising, the Soviets stopped their offensive into the Polish capital for the duration of said hostilities. Would this betray a deeper, meaner streak on the Continent? I've read this summation (book or article??) and it kind of stuck with me, and I've not been able to eek out an answer from any of the serious literature on the subject I've read. It is also why I think the Warsaw Uprising should be studied and given a higher profile, akin to the massive and titanic battles fought in that War.
What do you all think? (hope this is not off-topic)
It took time for the resistance to organize, and it was quite impossible to carry for those who were imprisoned in the ghettos or deported to the camps with their children and/or old parents.
But the Jewish resistance deserves to be better known.
Besides the Warsaw ghetto, armed revolts occurred in a dozen of other ghettos in Poland. Here is their list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghetto_uprising
Revolts occurred also in the death camps. The prisoners of Sobibor and Treblinka successfully revolted in 1943. As a result, Himmler closed these two camps.
The Sondercommandos revolted in Auschwitz-Bierkenau in 1944 and succeeded to blow up the Crematorium 4 with explosives that were smuggled inside the camp.
(There's a great book about the revolt of Treblinka that I recommend to those who read French: http://www.babelio.com/livres/Steine...mination/36211)
The Jews resisted also by joining resistance movements and partisans units. There were Jewish partisans units in Poland and in Russia. Many Polish Jews enlisted to the Red Army.
Some 1.5 millions Jews fought in the armies of the allies and in the underground resistance and partisans units. About 250,000 Jews were KIAs.
Estimated numbers of Jews who fought in the allies armies:
http://www.yadlashiryon.com/show_ite...50&itemId=2033The estimated numbers of Jewish men and women who fought in the ranks of the various armies are:
USA 550 000 Australia 3 900 Israel (Jewish Volunteers) 30 000 Britain 62 000 USSR 500 000 Yugoslavia 6000 (over 4000 in the Partisan army) Greece 13 000 Poland 122 000 Czechoslovakia 5 500 France 35 000 Canada 17 000 South Africa 10 000
There are no facts and estimates on the number of Jews in the Belgian, Dutch, and New Zealandarmies. A careful estimate puts the number of Jewish partisans in the occupied parts of the USSR at 20 000 - 25 000, and in the other European countries at another 10 000, including the anti-Nazi underground.
30,000 Jews from Palestine volunteered to the British army. A part of these volunteers enlisted to the Jewish Brigade that fought in North Africa and Italy.
All this is little known as the collective contagiousness focussed on the Shoah. (The cornerstone for a Museum about the Jewish Fighters in WW2 was laid this year in Latrun. Its construction will end within few years.)