The Nazis created over four hundred ghettos in Poland. Jewish youth groups already existed. When they realized what Hitler's plan was, their focus changed and the women played a huge role in this.
In this impeccably researched book, the author skillfully tells the stories of the remarkable women who became resistance fighters. They came from a variety of backgrounds and none had imagined what paths their lives would follow. They fought the Nazis from inside and outside the ghettos. Those who could pass as Christian Poles became masters at using disguises and acted as couriers distributing fake identification and weapons sometimes concealed in loaves of bread as well as smuggling Jews away from the Nazis. Inside the ghettos, they educated, fed people and ran schools, provided medical attention, and much more. They learned to make and use weapons that were used to kill Nazis and to bomb trains. Danger was faced every day. Those who could have left stayed. Where did their strength come from amidst all the horrors they faced?
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 and taught children.
Yet the exploits of these courageous resistance fighters have remained virtually unknown.
As propulsive and thrilling as Hidden Figures, In the Garden of Beasts, Band of Brothers, and A Train in Winter, 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.