Its a question that Gail Rosenthal hears a lot, especially in her job as the executive director of Stockton University
s Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center.
Why didnt the Jews fight back?
They did! And many were called partisans, and they fought in the woods mostly in Eastern Europe and Nazi-occupied Europe, she said.
To bring more attention to this part of the Holocaust, the center will hold a screening of an award-winning documentary titled Four Winters: A Story of Jewish Partisan Resistance and Bravery in World War II. The film uses eyewitness testimonies of Holocaust survivors who were partisans interwoven with archival footage.
The one-time only screening will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at the Tilton Square Theatre in Northfield. The film debuted last year and was named Best Documentary at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and won a Human Rights Award at the Hamptons Doc Fest in New York.
Its an important film for educators and our community because it answers that question that so many of our students ask, Rosenthal said.
The movie is also especially close to Leo Schoffer. Both of his parents, whom the Holocaust Resource Center is named after, were part of a partisan group after they escaped from the Vilna ghetto in what is now Lithuania.
Many people think there was very little resistance, and that the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were simply taken like sheep to the slaughter. Thats not the case, Schoffer said. There were a lot of Jews who did escape and who did put up a resistance, and its important because not everyone knows their story.
He felt a very strong connection to the movie because his whole childhood I heard these stories. Many of the stories the people told (in the movie) were similar to stories I had heard growing up with family and friends of my family that were also in the partisans. Schoffer added that the story of resistance against oppression is an important one today, especially with the Russia-Ukraine war.
Schoffer mentioned that several of the survivors interviewed in the story have died, which makes the documentary that much more important.
This is a special film because they have captured the story of these survivors, and they are gone now, he said. But at least we have it on film to tell their story.
Stockton University is ranked among the top public universities in the nation. Our more than 9,000 students can choose to live and learn on the 1,600-acre wooded main campus in the Pinelands National Reserve in South Jersey and at our coastal residential campus just steps from the beach and Boardwalk in Atlantic City. The university offers more than 160 undergraduate and graduate programs.