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One of the most important stories of World War II, already optioned by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture: a spectacular, searing history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who became resistance fighters—a group of unknown heroes whose exploits have never been chronicled in full, until now.
Witnesses to the brutal murder of their families and neighbors and the violent destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland—some still in their teens—helped transform the Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis. With courage, guile, and nerves of steel, these “ghetto girls” paid off Gestapo guards, hid revolvers in loaves of bread and jars of marmalade, and helped build systems of underground bunkers. They flirted with German soldiers, bribed them with wine, whiskey, and home cooking, used their Aryan looks to seduce them, and shot and killed them. They bombed German train lines and blew up a town’s water supply. They also nursed the sick, taught children, and hid families.
Yet the exploits of these courageous resistance fighters have remained virtually unknown.
As propulsive and thrilling as Hidden Figures, In the Garden of Beasts, and Band of Brothers, The Light of Days at last tells the true story of these incredible women whose courageous yet little-known feats have been eclipsed by time. Judy Batalion—the granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors—takes us back to 1939 and introduces us to Renia Kukielka, a weapons smuggler and messenger who risked death traveling across occupied Poland on foot and by train. Joining Renia are other women who served as couriers, armed fighters, intelligence agents, and saboteurs, all who put their lives in mortal danger to carry out their missions. Batalion follows these women through the savage destruction of the ghettos, arrest and internment in Gestapo prisons and concentration camps, and for a lucky few—like Renia, who orchestrated her own audacious escape from a brutal Nazi jail—into the late 20th century and beyond.
Powerful and inspiring, featuring twenty black-and-white photographs, The Light of Days is an unforgettable true tale of war, the fight for freedom, exceptional bravery, female friendship, and survival in the face of staggering odds.
NPR's Best Books of 2021
National Jewish Book Award, 2021
Canadian Jewish Literary Award, 2021
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
How many Jewish women World War II heroes can you name? Journalist Judy Batalion looks to right this wrong with the fascinating true story of the Polish resistance movement, which it turns out was spearheaded by fearless young Jewish women. Through detailed research and remarkable storytelling, she brings courageous fighters out of obscurity, introducing us to women like weapons smuggler Renia Kukiełka and Vladka Meed, whose brave plots helped spirit dozens of men, women, and children out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Batalion, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, balances the brutal realities of Nazi rule with thrilling stories about the women’s acts of heroism, from spying and disrupting supply chains to killing German soldiers. She draws directly from real diaries and letters to catalog amazing victories and unimaginable loss. This is history at its most vital.
Memoirist Batalion (White Walls) delivers a remarkable portrait of young Jewish women who fought in the Polish resistance during WWII. Drawing from "dozens of women's memoirs" and "hundreds of testimonies," Batalion documents an astonishing array of guerilla activities, including rescue missions for Jewish children trapped in Polish ghettos, assassinations of Nazi soldiers, bombings of German train lines, jailbreaks, weapons smuggling, and espionage missions. The story of "Renia K.," a "savvy, middle-class girl" who served as a courier in the B dzin Ghetto, forms the backbone of the narrative, but Batalion highlights numerous other freedom fighters, including a network of young women who aided a prisoner revolt at the Auschwitz concentration camp, and provides a detailed account of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. She spares no details recounting the sexual violence and torture these women endured, and notes numerous reasons why their stories aren't better known, including male chauvinism, survivor's guilt, and the fact that the resistance movement's military successes were "relatively miniscule." Batalion allows her subjects to speak for themselves whenever possible, weaving a vast amount of research material into a cohesive and dramatic narrative. This poignant history pays vivid tribute to "the breadth and scope of female courage."
He light of days
Extremely well written
The Light of Days
Interesting but jumps around too much . Hard to keep track of characters in the book. Poorly written. I did like learning what happened to the Jews in Poland.