"Playing for Time“ was a made-for-TV movie. It told the story of Fania Fenelon, a Jewish cabaret singer from Paris, and what happened to her in Auschwitz, a concentration camp. Below: Fania before and during time at the camp. What differences do you notice between these two pictures?
Fania’s friend, Alma Rose (before and after being sent to Auschwitz). Alma was not a musician, but Fania refused to play without Alma, thus saving Alma from the gas chambers.
Auschwitz was one of the worst of the various concentration camps during World War II. Over four million Jews perished there. More than a million and a half were children. In Auschwitz, Fenelon was a member of a prisoner orchestra that played music for the German officers stationed at the infamous camp. As long as the Germans enjoyed the music and the playing, they were saved from the gas chambers. Hence the title, "Playing for Time." From their rehearsal room, the orchestra members had seen thousands march to their deaths. These unfortunate victims were gassed to death and then consumed in the furnaces. On rare occasions, some were executed by a firing squad. One day, while they were discussing the cruelty of some of the prison's soldiers, a prisoner shouted: "They're monsters! They're not human!" Fenelon answered: "But they are human. Just like you. Just like me. That's the problem. Here we have learned something about human nature and it's not very good news."
Questions: 1. Based on your knowledge of the Holocaust, can you think of other ways that people survived by “playing the game?” 2. What are possible advantages and disadvantages to this approach to surviving the holocaust?
Surviving The Holocaust II. Keeping Life “Normal”
Schindler’s List SCHINDLER’S LIST tells the compelling true story of the German businessman Oskar Schindler who comes to Nazi- occupied Poland looking for economic prosperity and leaves as a savior of more than 1,100 Jews. A charming and sly entrepreneur, Schindler bribes and befriends the Nazi authorities to gain control of a factory in Krakow by aryanization, which he staffs with Jewish slave - laborers, and soon he is making a fortune. But among the Jews who work for him is Itzhak Stern, the plant manager, who in his benevolence sees to it that Schindler's workforce includes the most vulnerable and cherished members of Krakow's Jewish community.
Scene from Schinder’s List: Nazis Chasing Jews in the Ghetto. Describe what you see. How might someone being chased feel?
Despite constant harassment form the Nazis, many Jews tried to maintain “normal” lives in both the Ghettos and in concentration camps. They did this by holding Shabbat services, having marriage ceremonies, telling stories, trading goods, and in many other ways.
Questions: 1. In what ways might you try to maintain a “normal life” if imprisoned in a concentration camp? 2. What are possible advantages and disadvantages to this approach to surviving the holocaust?
Policies of oppression and genocide fueled resistance to the Nazis in the Third Reich and occupied Europe. Both Jews and non-Jews responded to Nazi oppression in various ways. Organized armed resistance was the most forceful form of Jewish opposition to the Nazis. The largest armed uprising was the Warsaw ghetto uprising (April-May 1943), sparked by rumors that the Nazis would deport the remaining ghetto inhabitants to the Treblinka extermination camp in Poland. As German forces entered the ghetto, members of the Jewish Fighting Organization (Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa; ZOB) pelted German tanks with hand grenades. It took the Nazis 27 days to destroy the ghetto and snuff out the last resistance. From the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Jewish Resistance fighters captured by SS troops during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. 1943 (From U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
A number of fighters resisted by escaping from the ghettos into the forests Uprisings occurred at three extermination camps. At Sobibor and Treblinka, prisoners with stolen weapons attacked the SS staff and their Ukrainian auxiliary guards. Most of the rebels were shot, though several dozen prisoners escaped. At Auschwitz, four Jewish women helped Jewish crematorium workers blow up a crematorium. All four rebels were killed. In most Nazi satellite or occupied countries, Jewish resistance focused on aid and rescue.
Resisters were met with harsh punishments by the Nazis. Polish resisters are hanged in the photo below. Who might have taken this photo? Why? (From U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)
Questions: 1. Why do you think these people chose to resist the Nazis? 2. What are possible advantages and disadvantages to this approach to surviving the holocaust? 3. What would you do if faced with the holocaust?