The Light of Days; The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos
Beovulf Sheehan (Author photograph) New York: William Morrow, 2020. First Edition [stated]. Second printing [stated]. Hardcover. xii, , 558,  pages. Illustrated endpapers. Cast of Characters. Map of Poland, Illustrations. Author's Note on Research. Notes. Bibliography. Index. DJ has slight wear and soiling. Judy was born and raised in Montreal, where she grew up speaking English, French, Yiddish and Hebrew. She studied the history of science at Harvard then moved to London to pursue a Ph.D. in art history. Judy wrote essays and articles for the New York Times, the Washington Post, Vogue, the Forward, Salon, the Jerusalem Post and many other publications. Her stories about family relationships, the generational transmission of trauma, pathological hoarding and militant minimalism came together in her book White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess in Between (NAL/Penguin, 2016). Back in 2007, during her phase of career promiscuity, Judy was doing research on strong Jewish women at the British Library when she happened to come across a dusty, old Yiddish book. Freuen in di Ghettos (Women in the Ghettos), a Yiddish thriller about “ghetto girls” who hid revolvers in teddy bears, bribed Nazis with whiskey and pastry, and blew up German supply trains, became the inspiration for The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos. The Light of Days is a New York Times bestseller and won a National Jewish Book Award and a Canadian Jewish Literary Award. It was adapted into an award-winning children’s book, will be translated into 22 languages, and was optioned by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, for whom Judy is co-writing the screenplay. 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. Condition: Very good / Very good.
Keywords: Jews, Resistance, Ghetto, ZOB, Warsaw, Gestapo, Ghetto Uprising, Partisans, Forced Labor, Tosia Altman, Assimilation, Auschwitz, Birkenau, Bedzin, Couriers, Deportations, Ilza Hansdorf, Bela Hazan, Holocaust, Judenrat, Chajka Klinger, Renia Kukielka