The Light of Days: The untold story of the Jewish resistance’s women fighters

Book review: The unspeakable is succeeded by the unthinkable in this passionately written history

Polish Jewish resistance women, captured after the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943.  Photograph: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Polish Jewish resistance women, captured after the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto in 1943. Photograph: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

“Heroic girls” the historian Emmanuel Ringelblaum called them, writing in 1942 from the misery of the Warsaw ghetto. “Nothing stands in their way. Nothing deters them. The story of the Jewish woman will be a glorious page in the history of Jewry during the present war.”

Ringelblaum was wrong. Throughout the second World War groups of Jewish women acted as couriers, smugglers, spies and partisans in the armed resistance to Nazi rule in Poland, but their stories have disappeared from that history. Judy Batalion’s The Light of Days is a conscious attempt to restore that missing page. 

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