The light of days The untold story of women resistance fighters in Hitler's ghettos

Judith Batalion

Book - 2020

Witnesses to the murder of their families and the destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland became the nerves of a wide-ranging resistance network that fought the Nazis. The Light of Days reveials the real history of these women whose little-known feats have been eclipsed by time.

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Personal narratives
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2020]
Main Author
Judith Batalion (author, -)
Other Authors
Winifred Conkling (author)
Young readers' edition. First edition
Physical Description
xx, 265 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages 249-265).
  • Who's Who
  • Map of Poland
  • Introduction
  • Part 1. Ghetto Girls
  • Chapter 1. Here, We Stay
  • Chapter 2. No Place to Run
  • Chapter 3. Zivia
  • Chapter 4. Terror in the Ghetto
  • Chapter 5. Education and the Word
  • Chapter 6. Becoming the Jewish Fighting Organization
  • Chapter 7. On the Run
  • Chapter 8. Heart of Stone
  • Chapter 9. A New Way Forward
  • Chapter 10. Fighting Back
  • Chapter 11. Rebellion
  • Part 2. Devils or Goddesses
  • Chapter 12. "I'll Go"
  • Chapter 13. Inside the Gestapo
  • Chapter 14. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
  • Chapter 15. Escape
  • Chapter 16. Arms, Arms, Arms
  • Chapter 17. One Family
  • Chapter 18. Freedom in the Forests
  • Chapter 19. After the Ghettos
  • Chapter 20. Missed Connection
  • Chapter 21. Nothing Left to Lose
  • Part 3. "No Border will Stand in their Way"
  • Chapter 22. The Bunker and Beyond
  • Chapter 23. The Gestapo Net
  • Chapter 24. The Cuckoo
  • Chapter 25. "Sisters, Revenge!"
  • Chapter 26. The Light of Days
  • Chapter 27. The Great Escape
  • Chapter 28. The Arrival
  • Part 4. The Emotional Legacy
  • Chapter 29. Fear of Life
  • Chapter 30. Forgotten Strength
  • Epilogue
  • Author's Note: On Research
  • Acknowledgments
  • Glossary
  • Source Notes
  • Further Reading
Review by Booklist Review

This young readers' edition of Batalion's adult title (also 2021) highlights the war contributions of 14 young Jewish women (most of them Polish) during the Holocaust. Drawing upon interviews, diaries, and other sources, she recounts their numerous activities as couriers: paying off guards; smuggling food, medicine, weapons, and IDs; escaping the Warsaw Ghetto via the sewers; gathering intelligence; building underground bunkers; and assisting Jews to escape. Many of these women began as members of Jewish social service clubs (some of them Zionist); whether they were active resisters or more passively resilient (dying with dignity and respect), all contributed to the Nazis' defeat. The narrative proceeds chronologically, with Renia Kukielka's story serving to tie together the various other profiles. The writing is clear and concise and ends with Kukielka's harrowing escape to Palestine in 1944. Appended with generous back matter and a section of black-and-white photos (not seen), this is a valuable addition to Holocaust literature, especially for its discussion of the PTSD and guilt that plagued those who survived.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up--Batalion undertakes a huge task in describing the life and work of several unsung heroines among the resistance fighters in Hitler's Polish ghettos, namely Warsaw, Krakow, and Bedzin. These young women, aged in their late teens or early 20s, often served as smugglers or saboteurs, but many served as couriers, especially if they could pass as non-Jews or as Polish Christians. The women were more likely to be successful because young men would have been arrested. Fourteen young women, not all of the same (but cooperating) underground movements, are featured in this text. A list of the women at the beginning of the text is most helpful. In addition to their name, it often contains pronunciation, location, and the name of the underground group with which they were affiliated. The general format describes the life of each woman, how she functioned in her given tasks, and a brief description of her post-war life; some women went to Palestine to live, while others went and chose not to stay there. The text begins with a map of Poland and closes with an epilogue, an author's note, an acknowledgment, a glossary, source notes, and further reading. VERDICT A good selection to add depth to a WWII collection. Previous knowledge of the subject will be a necessity to fully understand this title.--Eldon Younce, Anthony P.L., KS

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Lost stories of young Jewish female resistance fighters in World War II Poland are brought to light and retold for a new generation. Young Jewish women played a critical role in resistance movements during World War II, yet they are rarely given due credit, their legacies largely neglected for myriad complex reasons. This book seeks to remedy that omission, highlighting the stories of just over a dozen such young women in Poland, based on primary and secondary sources, many created during wartime or in the immediate postwar era and subsequently lost to the annals of history. These courageous women, many of them active participants in Jewish youth group movements prior to the war, rallied their passions and their networks to build resistance movements within the Jewish ghettos. They gathered intelligence, helped organize uprisings, and participated in acts of sabotage. Those who could pass as non-Jews often served as couriers, smuggling information, goods, and people in and out of the ghettos. Initially it is difficult to keep track of the cast, with various individuals operating out of different locations, and the writing style is less than engaging. However, the pace picks up as readers become more intimately acquainted with a select few figures who especially stand out, such as Renia Kukiełka, a courier whose journey takes terrifying turns. This valuable chronicle fills an important gap in Holocaust literature. (who's who, map, author's note, glossary, source notes, further reading) (Nonfiction. 11-14) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.