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General questions

In this section you will find some more general questions related to the topic of resistance and which we invite your to discuss with peers.

What is resistance?

For a long time, mainly direct armed confrontation and political opposition were considered as resistance. In the last decades, international historiography has tended to broaden the definition, including also civil forms of resistance, which were not necessarily realized by organised groups, for example the help and rescue for persecuted persons, especially for Jews. Researchers often distinguish different scales of resistance attitudes, between non-conformist behavior, dissent, refusal to follow orders, support for persecuted, open protest, to direct action against occupiers and collaborators which can also embrace many forms, armed and non-armed. Can all these attitudes be called resistance? And is the word “resistance” always the best term to designate the fight against Nazi Germany?  Within the communist-led Partisan movement in Yugoslavia, the equivalent word otpor was rarely used; other terms dominated, such as borba (struggle) and oslobođenje (liberation). Are “resistance” and “liberation struggle” the same?


What are key words to talk about resistance?

Resistance in Europe or European resistance?

There have been resistance groups and movements in all countries of Europe. They often acted alone, in very difficult circumstances, and were rarely in contact with groups from other countries. At the same time, they often knew about movements elsewhere, and considered their own fight as being a part of a common fight against Nazi Germany and its occupation of Europe. An important unifying factor was that the British government supported resistance groups in many occupied countries of Europe.

“Resistance in Europe” or “European resistance”: How would you explain the two terms and the difference between them? Which of both terms would you use when talking about resistance in a European context, and why?

When you look at stories of resistance from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France and Germany, do you see more similarities or differences? What are differences? What are similarities?


Note: It is important to avoid simplifying generalisations about entire countries just based on some of the stories of this platform.

My relation to resistance
  • Where and when did you hear form the first time about resistance? In school? Through your parents ? Through books or films?
  • Before looking at this portal: What did you know about resistance – in your own country? In other countries?
  • Suppose you learnt that your grandfather or grandmother was a part of a resistance group during World War II and that he or she is still alive: what would you like to ask them?
  • Do you see resistance fighters as heroes? Explain your answer.

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