Between Resistance and Collaboration

The Ambiguity of the Protectorate Gendarmes’ Service in the Theresienstadt Ghetto (1941-1945)


  • Jan Lanicek University of New South Wales



Protectorate, Czechoslovakia, police, Holocaust, gendarmerie, rescue, collaboration


The article analyses the role members of the Czech Protectorate gendarmerie played in the persecution of the Jews during the Second World War. A Special gendarmerie unit guarded Theresienstadt, the only major Jewish ghetto created during the war in the occupied Bohemian lands. Whilst some of the gendarmes supported Jewish prisoners and tried to alleviate their plight, others collaborated with the SS unit – in charge of the ghetto, behaved brutally or denounced prisoners for any transgressions of the ghetto laws. Most of the gendarmerie unit vacillated between both extremes and remained passive observers to the events. The article centres on both extremes of support and betrayal, and asks what they can reveal about the wartime service of the gendarmes in the ghetto and their role in the persecution of the Protectorate Jews, as well as those deported to the ghetto from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and other territories.

Author Biography

Jan Lanicek, University of New South Wales

Jan Láníček is senior lecturer in modern European and Jewish history at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. His recent books include Arnošt Frischer and the Jewish Politics of Early 20th-Century Europe (2017), The Jew in Czech and Slovak Imagination, 1938–89 (with Hana Kubátová, 2017), and Czechs, Slovaks and the Jews, 1938–1948 (2013). He is currently completing a study of post-Holocaust judicial retribution in Czechoslovakia and works on a project on Jewish refugees in Australia during the Holocaust. He is coeditor of the Australian Journal for Jewish Studies.





How to Cite

Lanicek, Jan. 2021. “Between Resistance and Collaboration: The Ambiguity of the Protectorate Gendarmes’ Service in the Theresienstadt Ghetto (1941-1945)”. S: I.M.O.N. Shoah: Intervention. Methods. Documentation. 8 (2):13-37.