Strategies of Resistance Elsewhere: The Kovno Ghetto

Barbara Epstein

in The Minsk Ghetto 1941-1943

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780520242425
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931336 | DOI:
Strategies of Resistance Elsewhere: The Kovno Ghetto

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This chapter discusses the strategies of resistance beyond Minsk. It focuses on the Kovno ghetto and its efforts to send Jews to the forest. The story of the Kovno ghetto forms a useful point of comparison with the Minsk ghetto underground. In contrast to the approximately ten thousand Jews who reached partisan units from the Minsk ghetto, only about three hundred Jews reached the partisan units from the Kovno ghetto. These differences were caused by geographical and logistical differences between the two ghettos. Like Minsk, the Kovno ghetto was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence, however the sentries of the Kovno ghetto were stationed at intervals along it. Kovno was not like Minsk, which was within a day's walk of the partisan forest. It was not possible for the residents of the Kovno ghetto to leave on their own, walk to the forest and search for partisan groups to join. The most important difference between the Minsk and Kovno ghetto was that the Minsk ghetto was part of a united underground movement while the Kovno ghetto did not have external allies. Due to the weakness and the isolation of underground forces outside the ghetto, Kovno was only able to send limited numbers of Jews to the forest. This Kovno story highlights the significance of external allies, such as links to a strong underground organization, and a dense network of ties between Jews in the ghetto and non-Jews outside it. In addition to discussing the story of the Kovno ghetto, the chapter also tackles the ghetto revolt that dominated the ghettos of Vilna, Warsaw, and Bialystock.

Keywords: resistance; Kovno ghetto; Minsk ghetto underground; external allies; Kovno; Vilna; Warsaw; Bialystock

Chapter.  10451 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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