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The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos

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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 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.  


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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 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.  

56 review for The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book was a bit of an information dump. I'm really glad that she did this research and brought these young women's stories to light, but there were so many characters and events that it was hard to keep track of them. It ended up feeling to me like I was reading a string of separate anecdotes. They were all gripping, but not as much as if I had been able to get attached to any of the characters. I think others will likely use this book as source material to write something that feels more li This book was a bit of an information dump. I'm really glad that she did this research and brought these young women's stories to light, but there were so many characters and events that it was hard to keep track of them. It ended up feeling to me like I was reading a string of separate anecdotes. They were all gripping, but not as much as if I had been able to get attached to any of the characters. I think others will likely use this book as source material to write something that feels more like a story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    Intense. Well written. Well researched. Beyond just the more well-known activities of the Warsaw ghetto, the author shows how these brave women, traveled across borders, between occupied lands, connecting the pockets of Jewish civilians, forced into overcrowded ghettos across Poland and Lithuania. At first, focused on survival, they quickly realized there was no coming to terms with a machine bent on their death. Despite the difficulty in making connections with other Polish resistance groups, t Intense. Well written. Well researched. Beyond just the more well-known activities of the Warsaw ghetto, the author shows how these brave women, traveled across borders, between occupied lands, connecting the pockets of Jewish civilians, forced into overcrowded ghettos across Poland and Lithuania. At first, focused on survival, they quickly realized there was no coming to terms with a machine bent on their death. Despite the difficulty in making connections with other Polish resistance groups, they began to focus on armed resistance and struggle. Passing as Poles, these young women - many in their teens, smuggled weapons, intelligence, documents past Germans, Polish police and blackmailers. The found Poles willing to hide Jews, arranged and distributed payments - all of this at an age when they should have been enjoying life and relaxing. Instead, they faced instant death, torture, imprisonment. And yet they persisted, found the inner strength to continue, to live, to survive, and to help others, even when they couldn't save their own families. These women and their bravery was "forgotten" for too long and this great book should help in this effort.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Aryn

    As Judy Batalion points out in her introduction and author’s notes, there are many reasons that the Jewish women who helped lead the resistance within the Polish ghettos are not well known. With The Light of Days, Batalion works to bring some of those courageous women back into the limelight. Extensive research and a strong narrative bring Renia Kukielka and her comrades vividly to life. Renia used her Aryan looks, bravery, and intelligence to work as a courier for the resistance based in the gh As Judy Batalion points out in her introduction and author’s notes, there are many reasons that the Jewish women who helped lead the resistance within the Polish ghettos are not well known. With The Light of Days, Batalion works to bring some of those courageous women back into the limelight. Extensive research and a strong narrative bring Renia Kukielka and her comrades vividly to life. Renia used her Aryan looks, bravery, and intelligence to work as a courier for the resistance based in the ghettos, though the Hebrew word kashariyot, translated by Batalion as “connector” is a much more accurate name for the work. Renia smuggled papers, money, arms, information, supplies, and people between ghettos, the Aryan side of towns and cities, and across Poland. This book is inspiring, heartbreaking, and powerful, and details a part of history that we must not forget. Strongly recommended for readers of history and historical fiction alike. If you only choose one book about World War II and the Holocaust this year, I strongly suggest this be on your short list for consideration. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jg

    A powerful, interesting, and beautifully written book about the many heroic women who secretly fought against the nazi regime in spite of the odds and fear of capture. These are the stories and the women who need to be celebrated even all these years later. I read this book in small doses so I could savor and better understand what these women went through and what they accomplished. I’m grateful to author Judy Batalion for bringing these women and their courageous stories to light. I highly rec A powerful, interesting, and beautifully written book about the many heroic women who secretly fought against the nazi regime in spite of the odds and fear of capture. These are the stories and the women who need to be celebrated even all these years later. I read this book in small doses so I could savor and better understand what these women went through and what they accomplished. I’m grateful to author Judy Batalion for bringing these women and their courageous stories to light. I highly recommend.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen Troutman

    The Light of Days The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos by Judy Batalion HarperCollins Publishers William Morrow Biographies & Memoirs | History Pub Date 23 Jun 2020 | Archive Date 23 Jun 2020 I loved this book! Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers I was given an ARC of this book for my honest review. I love reading biographies and memoirs! I read this one in short doses so I could truly absorb the heroism of these women. Grab this book and read it!! The Light of Days The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos by Judy Batalion HarperCollins Publishers William Morrow Biographies & Memoirs | History Pub Date 23 Jun 2020 | Archive Date 23 Jun 2020 I loved this book! Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers I was given an ARC of this book for my honest review. I love reading biographies and memoirs! I read this one in short doses so I could truly absorb the heroism of these women. Grab this book and read it!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

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    Susan Hamm

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