‘Their stories seeped into my system’: How Judy Batalion found the stories of overlooked female Polish WWII resistance fighters

(JTA) — They hid revolvers in teddy bears and dynamite in their underwear. They learned how to make lethal Molotov cocktails and fling them at German supply trains. The girls with “Aryan” features who could pass as non-Jews flirted with Nazis – plying them with wine, whiskey and pastry before shooting them dead.

When the Nazis occupied their native Poland, Jewish women, some barely into their teens, joined the resistance and risked their young lives to sabotage the regime.

That crucial but often overlooked story of defiance and resistance is told by Judy Batalion in her new book, “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos” (William Morrow). It’s the result of her 12-year odyssey digging through archives and interviewing descendants of the women. The research skills she honed while earning a doctorate in the history of art from the University of London helped her navigate the daunting challenges of crafting a cohesive, factually accurate narrative out of history shrouded in myth and neglect.

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