Resistance by Young People Throughout History


Herbert Steiner

Herbert Steiner, born in 1923, was active in the resistance during his secondary school years and had to flee Austria in 1938. In British exile, Herbert Steiner was active in the youth organisation "Young Austria". Steiner's parents were murdered in the Holocaust. In the 1960s, Herbert Steiner co-founded the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW), which he directed from 1963 to 1983.


Ernst Gabriel

Ernst Gabriel, born in 1926, grew up in Deutschkreutz as the son of a working-class family. He did an apprenticeship as an electrician. At first, he was a member of the Hitler Youth. However, after the death of his father in 1942, who was a convinced opponent of the National Socialists, he turned away from it. He preferred to meet with other young people from the village. The group he hung out with was non-conformist, wore longer hair, and was provocative because of its non-conformity. They were disdainfully called "Schlurfs" by the Nazis. The group politicised itself and formed a resistance group that carried out acts of sabotage. In the end, the group was arrested and tortured (two members were only 14 years old). Ernst Gabriel died in prison in 1945.

From: Heribert Brettl: Nationalsozialismus im Burgenland. Innsbruck: Studienverlag, 2012. p. 354.


Josef Hans Grafl: A Resistance Fighter in the Service of the Allies

Josef Hans Grafl, born in 1921 in Schattendorf, was involved with the Communist Party since his earliest youth. When he was drafted to the Wehrmacht, he remained true to his ideology and passed on secret radio messages to the Soviet army. When he was discovered, he fled and fought his way to the English army. He fought on the side of the Allies for the liberation of his homeland until the end of the war.

From: Heribert Brettl: Nationalsozialismus im Burgenland. Innsbruck: Studienverlag, 2012. p. 356.


Käthe Sasso

Käthe Sasso was born in Vienna in 1926. Her parents Agnes and Johann were both politically engaged against the Federal State of Austria, 1934-1938 (“Ständestaat”) and against National Socialism, 1938-1945. After her father was drafted to the Wehrmacht and her mother died of a serious illness in July 1941, the young girl became a member of the resistance group Gustav Adolf Neustadl. The group's main goals were to support widows of executed resistance fighters with food, to listen to foreign radio stations and to distribute leaflets against fascism. In August 1942, aged 16, she was arrested by the Gestapo. In January 1943, she was sent to the Vienna Regional Court as a prisoner, narrowly escaped the death sentence, was transferred to the Oberlanzendorf labour education camp, and was finally deported to Berlin in September 1944 and two weeks later to Ravensbrück concentration camp. On 28 April 1945, she was forced to a death march to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. On the first night of the death march, near Wustrow, she managed to escape together with her friend Mizzi Bosch and returned to Vienna.


Ernst Kirchweger

Ernst Kirchweger, born in 1898 in Vienna, was a streetcar conductor and later managing director of the Compass publishing house. He was fatally injured by an extreme right-wing student during a demonstration against Taras Borodajkewycz, an Austrian National Socialist historian, in 1965. He was the first victim of political violence in Austria after 1945.


The White Rose

The "White Rose" was one of the most famous resistance movements against Adolf Hitler. The Munich students Sophie and Hans Scholl founded the group together with friends because they wanted to show that many young people were against National Socialism. They printed and distributed leaflets calling on their fellow students to resist. The caretaker of the university betrayed the Scholl siblings to the Secret State Police on 18 February 1943, and shortly afterwards the two were executed, as were the other members of the White Rose. (Input Theatre Pedagogy  / Information and ideas about the play „The White Rose“) (explanatory video) (film and commentary) (Dossier)


Edelweiss Pirates

The "Edelweiss Pirates“ were groups of German youths with “inappropriate”, sometimes oppositional behaviour in the German Reich from 1939 to 1945. Some of these groups, such as the Cologne Edelweiss group around Gertrud Koch, whose father died in the Esterwegen concentration camp, or the Ehrenfeld group around the concentration camp refugee Hans Steinbrück, actively participated in the resistance against National Socialism. (explanatory video)


Comitato Di Liberazione Nazionale (Freedom National Committee)

Military organization founded in 1943 which contained different partisan groups with the purpose of defeating the Nazi occupation. Even if it was a unified organization, the particularity of its composition was the differences between its members. Indeed, the division was purely political and each party (Communist, Liberal, Catholics, and Socialist) was self-organized. They ended their mission in 1947 and participated in the democratic process which brought about the Italian Republic.


Bandiera Rossa

Political party as well as revolutionary partisan brigade that operated during the Resistance in the Rome area. It was the largest partisan force in occupied Rome, with a base of about three thousand militants, mostly located in the capital suburbs. Marxist and Leninist-inspired, this organization did not share the line of the Italian Communist Party, whose policy of national unity with bourgeois anti-fascist parties, nor the lack of democracy within the party. Bandiera Rossa conceived the anti-fascist struggle as an immediate prologue to the communist revolution, and therefore believed that the proletariat should participate in the Resistance while always maintaining its autonomy and pursuing its own class interests.


Patriotic Action Groups

Formed by the general command of the Garibaldi Brigades at the end of October 1943, these were small groups of partisans that emerged at the initiative of the Italian Communist Party to operate mainly in the city, based on the experience of the French Resistance. GAP militants were called "gappisti".


Liliana Segre

Born in February 12, 1938, Liliana Segre lived and suffered the discriminatory impositions of the fascist racial laws. At the age of 13 years, she was deported to Auschwitz. Luckily, she survived and returned to Italy at the end of World War II.  At the beginning of the 1990s she began to tell her experience, working to raise awareness against racism and indifference among youth. On January 19, 2018, she was appointed senator for life by President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella. Since April 15, 2021, she has been president of the Extraordinary Commission for Combating Intolerance, Racism, Anti-Semitism and Incitement to Hate and Violence. (


Ilio Barontini

First secretary of the Communist Federation of Livorno. He rushed to China to learn, in Mao Tse Tung's People's Army, the techniques of guerrilla warfare, and then went on to Ethiopia (where he would again return to fight, under the cover name of "Paulus," after the fall of the Spanish People's Republic), in aid of the Abyssinian people, who were being attacked by fascist colonialists. In Spain, Barontini fought in the International Brigades as chief of staff of the XII "Garibaldi" Brigade, distinguishing himself particularly at Jarama, Guadalajara and Huesca.
At the beginning of World War II, when the Germans invaded France, "Giobbe" (this was his battle name in this country), was among the organizers of the first groups of Francs-tireurs partisans, of which he became central chief of staff.  Returning to Italy after September 8, 1943, "Dario" (his new pseudonym), was called to join the General Command of the Garibaldi Brigades. In this capacity, he organized the GAP in the various regions occupied by the Nazi-Fascists. From the beginning of 1944 and until the Liberation, Barontini was at the head of CUMER (Comando militare unificato Emilia-Romagna) and directed the partisans in the most important battles with the Nazis (Porta Lame, Monte Forni, Modena). After the Liberation, Ilio Barontini was deputy to the Constituent Assembly, then senator for the Livorno constituency in the second Legislature of the Republic, secretary of the Livorno Communist Federation and member of the PCI Central Committee.


Staffetta Partigiana

This partisan relay girl was generally affiliated to the Italian Resistance and was assigned the task of ensuring connections between the various partisan brigades within the Italian war of liberation. This work was often done by young women between the ages of 16 and 18, for the simple reason that they were thought to arouse less suspicion and thus would not be subjected to search. The Staffettes had the task of ensuring connections between the various brigades and maintaining contact between partisans and their families; in some cases they also had the task of accompanying possible resisters. Without the connections they ensured, everything would have stopped, and everything would have been more difficult. Within the brigade, the relay girl also often had the vital role of nurse, keeping in touch with the doctor and pharmacist to treat soldiers from wounds sustained in battle and from lice.



The wave of strikes in August 1980 led to the creation of NSZZ "Solidarity" – the first legal trade union organization in communist countries, independent of the authorities. The signing of an agreement in Gdańsk on August 31, 1980 between the government commission and the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee and the establishment of Solidarity marked the beginning of the changes of 1989 – the overthrow of communism and the end of the Yalta system.


Slovenian student movement 1968-1972

The Slovenian student movement was a part of a global wave of student protests. Students protested against the system, in the West it was against the capitalist system and in the East against the socialist system. Post-war Yugoslavia was quickly developing. Population and cities grew, and the living standards rose. This consequently drove the county towards liberalization and introduction of some capitalist elements. The country started to open toward the West and students were struggling with poor accommodation and capacity in study centres, the difficulty of access to study for students form the periphery and the decline in opportunities for young people. Slovenian students were mostly fighting for self-governing socialism, because they felt Slovenia didn‘t have enough governing power inside the Yugoslav federation and that the government distanced themselves too much from socialism and started opening too much to the West. The most notable events were protests in Rožna Dolina, the formation of a student lead radio “Radio Študent”, blocking the traffic next to the Faculty of Arts, because of unbearable conditions caused by increasing noise from traffic next to the faculty, and the most striking event was the occupation of the Faculty of Arts, that was triggered by the criminal prosecution of certain “too loud” students.

Repe, Božo. Rdeča Slovenija: tokovi in obrazi iz obdobja socializma. Ljubljana, 2003.

Repe, Božo. „Študentske demonstracije leta 1968 v zahodni in vzhodni Evropi ter v Jugoslaviji“, Zgodovina v šoli 4, št. 3 (1995), 13–20.


Karel Destovnik

…was a Slovenian poet, translator, resistance fighter, and Yugoslav people's hero. He began publishing his poems in the literary magazine for youth Slovenska mladina (Slovene Youth). His poems had social, political, and love themes. After joining the Partisans, Kajuh became the leader of the cultural section in his military unit. He used his poetic talent in order to mobilize people into fighting against the occupying forces and inspiring them hope of a return to freedom. Up to these days, both Kajuh as a person and his poetry are considered one of the most important symbols of the Slovene Partisan movement during World War II.


Slovenian LGBTQIA+ Movements

Organized movement in Slovenia started in the 80s. In the year 1984, the organization Magnus was founded and it was the first gay organization in the socialist countries at the time. At first the organization was only composed of gays, but later the feminist initiative formed and created the lesbian section. Through time more and more organizations started to form that fight for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people and help them in their struggle for equality.



The Slovenian Partisan Movement

The Slovene Partisans were an anti-Nazi resistance movement lead by the Yugoslav Communist Party during World War II. Like in many countries across Europe at the time, the Partisans fought a guerrilla style of war against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. They sabotaged road and railroad connections and spread the idea of resistance throughout the nation. One of the methods of rallying the people was using „Radio Kričač“, which was an illegal radio station, of which the transmitter was never found by the Germans or Italians. The movement gathered a lot of young people who were very much motivated to defend the homeland.

Dušan Nećak, Božo Repe, Oris sodobne obče in slovenske zgodovine. Učbenik za študente 4. letnika. Ljubljana: Filozofska fakulteta, 2003.


Women’s Demonstrations 1943 in Solvenia

During the Italian occupation of Ljubljana many men were imprisoned, internated or executed, which put their wives in a very difficult position. Therefore, some tens of women decided to protest against the Italian regime and try to gain the right to send their men in prison food and fresh clothes. They were, however, not successful, so they gathered in bigger numbers (around 200) and some 30 of them were allowed to visit their men, but the others didn’t, which rallied them up even more. Protests were being held regularly and one of the biggest ones happened on 21st June 1943 when, as some sources say, up to 3000 women gathered in protest against the Fascist Italian regime. They were met with aggressive retaliation and protest were practically being held until the Italian surrender on 3rd September 1943.


Slovenian Protests 1908

In the decade before World War I, the relations between Germans and Slovenians were very tense and complicated. Slovenians have been fighting for their language and rights, while the German (Austrian) side tried to suppress any kind of revolution from forming. This culminated in a mass protest in Ljubljana that was in support of pro-Slovenian protests in Ptuj. The latter were an answer to an aggressive reaction of the Germans to some Slovenian provocations in the city. The protests in Ljubljana ended with the Austrian military shooting upon the protesters, killing two young men aged 22 and 15.



TIGR (abbreviation for Trst, Istra, Gorica and Rijeka) was a resistance group that unified youth of different perceptions in order to fight against the rising presence of fascism in Western and Southwestern Slovenia. The organization was active during 1924 and 1945 and wanted to get attention from the world public, with terrorist attacks on fascist militias and fascist centres



Metelkova mesto, an alternative culture centre that developed from a squat in a former army barracks and became one of the best known attractions of Ljubljana, brings together a variety of different artistic practices and events. It is home to a large number of clubs hosting a regular programme of concerts, club nights, and one-off club events featuring underground artists and DJs from around the world. The centre also hosts art performances, exhibitions, and an occasional festival. Running a vibrant daily programme of events, it draws together people on any night of the week. The crowd is mixed, including anyone from students and underground music fans to visitors to Ljubljana and professionals enjoying a night out.


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