Resistance in the Vilna Ghetto | Facing History & Ourselves

Resistance in the Vilna Ghetto

Learn about the dilemmas Jewish partisans faced as they encouraged others to fight back against the Germans during the Holocaust, through experience of teenage resistance fighter Vitka Kempner.
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At a Glance

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English — US


  • History
  • Resistance
  • The Holocaust

Vitka Kempner was 19 years old when she made the choice to resist the Nazis. She fled to the city of Vilna and then was sent to the Vilna Ghetto, where she joined other youth to become a founding member of the United Partisan Organization (FPO). 

In an interview for the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, she describes the tensions between young Jewish partisans in Vilna and older members of the community.

But of all the underground movements in the ghettos, nobody did anything until the last moment. Because no one of us wanted, that because of some carelessness on our side, other Jews would get killed. We were young, and the claim against us from many people inside the ghetto was, You are irresponsible young people, because of you all the Jews will get killed. . . .

The Jews organized against the FPO, and even parents of our comrades were against us and said that because of a group of hotheads, all the ghetto will be destroyed. We understood that there would be no possibility to fight only in the ghetto. And we decided to take groups out into the forest. 1

  • 1© Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation. All Rights Reserved

How to Cite This Reading

Facing History & Ourselves, "Resistance in the Vilna Ghetto," last updated May 12, 2020.

This reading contains text not authored by Facing History & Ourselves. See footnotes for source information.

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