It is written into halacha that we are not allowed to assist captives to escape, lest we encourage captors to be harsher with their victims, and watch them more closely. See SA YD 252:5 for example.

It does not say that captives are not allowed to attempt their own escape, although the svara written there may still apply.

So are captives allowed to attempt escape or not?

  • In context, what does this mean in the context of the Holocaust? There were a huge number of Jewish captives. There were those who advocated for bombing railroad lines and camps and attempting liberation of the captives. There were others who advocated bribery, meaning pidyon shivoyim. But the captors were dedicated to the absolute destruction of their captives. What seems like the best choice in terms of past practical experience? Saving life, regardless of method. Jul 16 at 3:29
  • @YaacovDeane that was a situation of war, and I believe the above halachos are geared more towards evil regimes, kidnappers and poritzim?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jul 16 at 17:44
  • See Gittin 45a. The primary focus seems to be about trying to avoid worsening the situation for other remaining captives. But where the condition of the captives is the same, meaning the captors intent is the murder and destruction of all captives, the restriction is not applicable. Jul 17 at 14:40

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I should have spent more time looking, but if anyone is interested, פתחי תשובה quotes תשובת חות יאיר as saying that single prisoners who can escape should escape, and not be concerned about the other prisoners. It is not even a midda chassidus to not attempt the escape.

  • 2
    The Gemara Gittin 45A which is the source of this halacha, brings a story that shows that the prisoner himself can escape
    – Chatzkel
    Jul 16 at 2:12

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