It was a cold February day in 1943. A multitude of German women stood outside a Jewish community center holding hands and shouting “give us our husbands back!”. Nazi police came to the scene, they warned the women to scatter. They threatened them with machine guns. The women refused to budge.
To speak up against Hitler was extremely dangerous. It meant risking the safety of yourself and your family members. This frightening force kept the majority of the German people in silent submission to the Nazi’s atrocious policies throughout Hitler’s reign. Yet despite this threat, there were a few cases in which people took courage and refused to stand by and watch Hitler’s evil policies in action.
Hitler hated the Jews and wanted to completely destroy the Jewish population of his capital city, Berlin. He ordered the majority of the Jews to be sent to death camps, but in 1943 a few still remained. These Jews were treated differently because they were married to Aryan (ethnically German) women. When Hitler rounded up this final group, their German wives worried that their dear husbands and sons would be forced to meet the mysterious and miserable fate of the many Jews who had disappeared before them.
And so they began to protest. Around 600 people, mostly women, banded together outside of the community center where their men had been incarcerated. They chanted, sang songs, held hands, and sometimes just stood in silence. Although the police threatened them, they stood their ground. By the end of the week a few thousand more women had joined the original 600.
Even Hitler and his seemingly all-powerful gestapo force couldn’t stand against the courage of these women. They decided to release the men at Rosenstrasse, in fear that a demonstration of such bravery would inspire others to start larger protests throughout Germany. Nearly 2,000 jews were released to their families, preventing Hitler from having his desired Jew free Berlin. Next time you need courage to stand against a fear or threatening force, try remembering these women, who laid all their self doubt and fear aside to fight for the rights of those they loved.
By: Susanna Olson
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...