Underground_School_Kovno

Above: Children study secretly in the Kovno ghetto

In many ghettos Jews were unable to open schools. In others, schools were forbidden by the Nazis. Some elementary schools were then organized secretly, often under the guise of social aid for children. Small groups met with their teachers in apartments. These schools sometimes offered full academic programs. 

"They exist only by miracle, since the teachers, because of a dearth of students, don't earn enough for a crumb of bread," wrote Chaim Kaplan in his Warsaw diary.

Teaching in the ghetto sometimes provided a meager source of income for unemployed Jewish teachers. But, more importantly, education also helped offset the demoralization of ghetto life and gave people a sense of dignity and worth. Although no one knew if there would be a future, education of the young was still regarded as an important duty. It was implicitly an act of hope.