restricted access The Dilemma of Wittenberg: Reflections on Tactics and Ethics

This study explains how in the Vilna ghetto, the Nazis made successful use of the tactic of "collective responsibility." By threatening that if a certain resistance leader was not turned over to them alive, they would annihilate the entire ghetto, they displaced the responsibility for the extermination of the Jews onto their leader and, if he were protected, on the Jewish resistance organizations. The resistance faced an impossible dilemma: give up completely their principle of not turning over individuals "to save the rest," or use all their efforts to control their own people, instead of directing their energies against the Nazis.