This week, Ben Carson caused a stir by asserting that gun control laws were responsible for the Holocaust, a patently absurd myth that enjoys surprisingly widespread acceptance in some quarters of the American right. On Friday, Dr. Keith Ablow, a Fox News medical contributor and Caron fundraiser, offered a slightly different spin on the thesis in a Fox op-ed titled "Why Ben Carson is right about Jews, the Holocaust and guns."
Ablow's argument is that it's not so much that a lack of Jewish guns explains why the Holocaust happened, as that "the mindset that Jews surrendered with their guns is far more important than the hardware they turned over: they surrendered the demonstrated intention, at all costs, to resist being deprived of liberty." According to Ablow, "If Jews in Germany had more actively resisted the Nazi party or the Nazi regime and had diagnosed it as a malignant and deadly cancer from the start, there would, indeed, have been a chance for the people of that country and the world to be moved to action by their bold refusal to be enslaved."
Jewish resistance to Hitler was widespread
Beyond the offensive victim-blaming aspect to this characterization, it is simply false to say that Jews did not resist Hitler's rise to power, his attempted conquest of Europe, or his attempted genocide of the Jewish people.
The problem was that Jews in Germany — and in Europe more broadly — were a relatively small minority, outnumbered by committed anti-Semites and largely not supported by their gentile neighbors. When Herschel Grynszpan, a German-born Jew living in Paris, attempted to resist Nazi rule by assassinating the German ambassador to France, the Nazis used it as a pretext to launch their Kristallnacht pogrom. German Jews were simply too outnumbered and outgunned to mount a successful violent resistance.
But especially once World War II got underway, Jews participated eagerly in the anti-Nazi resistance movements that existed in virtually every country.
The problem was that defeating the German military was hard. Here's a photo of some Jewish partisans being hanged in Minsk in modern-day Belarus. Minsk is about 600 miles east of Berlin, but the German military was there hanging Jewish anti-Nazi fighters because they had successfully defeated the Polish military, and then defeated the Soviet military in a number of battles allowing them to occupy vast swaths of Soviet territory. Hitler also conquered France, Norway, and a number of other countries that — like Europe's Jewish population — fought back. They were simply unsuccessful. If you're interested, here are 10 great stories of Jewish resistance but they tend to end up being rather sad — the German war machine was sophisticated and ruthless.