The essay ‘Daughters of the Resistance’, by Judy Batalion, saves the women of Poland who fought against Hitler from oblivion, and breaks the myth of Jewish passivity in the face of the Holocaust
By warning ghetto, with blonde hair tied back in braids and bright blue eyes, the young Jodin Niuta Teitelbaum she seemed naive and innocent. One day, she resolutely walked into the office of a high-ranking Gestapo officer and shot him in cold blood. He would not be the only one. Another was shot in bed at home. With the appearance of a Polish farmer and feigned embarrassment, he also persuaded some Nazi guards by whispering to them to talk to a certain officer about a “personal matter,” implying that he had fertilized her. When he was in his office, he pulled out a pistol with a silencer and shot him in the head, then came out calm and smiling. She also killed two other Nazi agents and wounded a third, who was taken to hospital: disguised as a doctor, she entered her room and did not forgive, and also took the guard with her. It is not surprising that with such a record she was one of the most wanted assassins by the Gestapo, who called her “.little Wanda with piglets ». She called herself “laksman”. She was prosecuted, tortured and executed. He belonged to the communist group Spartacus. She was 25 years old and she is one of the forgotten Polish Jewish women that the art historian and comedian Judy Battalion, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, saves in the essay ‘Daughters of the Resistance’ (Six Barral).
Battalion, born in Canada and trained at Harvard, brings together numerous stories that they break the “perverse myth of the passivity of the Jews”, that they were led to their death without resistance. “Although my own grandparents survived, I myself have always believed in that idea of passivity. But I discovered these active, angry Jewish women, who exploded with anger, who dressed, who operated secret printing presses, of moving trains. “they jumped, planted bombs in the wagons, they hid guns in loaves, they bought guns from drug dealers in cemeteries and they shot Nazis in the head,” he told a video conference in New York.
They fought and revolted
“The story of the grief and passivity of the Jews has always reached us. But in reality, in the 90 ghettos of Eastern Europe, there were secret resistance units and, in them, women who fought and revolted, who took part. to rescue networks and biased forces and helped rescue 20,000 people from the ghettos, ”he adds.
Battalion lived in London 15 years ago. “I thought a lot about my Jewish identity and the emotional legacy of the Holocaust, how trauma is passed down from generation to generation. Or I was like I was because of my grandmother’s family background,” she said. the gulag Soviet, in Siberia, explains. I was thinking of writing a play about women, especially about Hannah Senesh, a young Hungarian Jew who, after arriving in present-day Israel, returned to Nazi-occupied Europe and joined the Allies. And looking for information in the British Library, he found a book in Yiddish published in 1946 in New York, ‘Women in the ghettos’. She began pulling a thread that became 12 years of focused research “through a female prism”. He is currently working on the screenplay to turn ‘Daughters of the Resistance’ into a movie led by Steven Spielberg.
Renia Kukielka joined the resistance after seeing a Nazi crack a baby’s skull
Battalion admits that she “constantly” thinks about what she would have done in place of those women. “Would I have run away? Would I have stayed? Would I have resisted? I want to think I would have intervened somehow, but what I do know is that I would not have been able to shoot anyone in the head. Many on a thousand ways resisted, as they could, but of what the sons of Renia Kukielka when I went to visit them in Israel, I was not like her. They described her as very confident, someone who trusted her gut. ”
Kukielka, a key figure in the book, was 15 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. She was not idealistic or revolutionary, but a middle-class girl who found herself in a “sudden and relentless nightmare” of losing most of her family. After seeing a baby’s skull burst open by a Nazi throwing him against a wall and another child confronting the Germans in Chmielnik, he joined the resistance, Jewish youth movement freedom. As he would write in 1945, it was easier for the Nazis to kill a person than to smoke a cigarette.
Torture and deportation
Kukielka participated in numerous missions as a courier transporting documents and weapons, hiding Jews and spying on the Germans. She fell into the hands of the Gestapo and was tortured to almost death, but never revealed that she was Jewish. His partner Bela Hazan also did not speak, despite four months of hard interrogations, before he was deported to Auschwitz.
Tema Schneiderman and Havka Folman smuggled grenades into the Warsaw ghetto along with menstrual pads and underwear. As the famine spread, Frumka Plotnicka ran a soup kitchen and Zivia Lubetkin taught children. Faye Schulman inflated trains of German soldiers, and although she had no medical training, she learned to perform surgery outdoors. Vitka Kempner helped 200 Jews escape through a forest and Henia Reinhartz created an underground library in the Lodz ghetto.
guilt and forgetfulness
Batalion believes their stories have been forgotten for several reasons. “Many kept quiet, others because they told their story in the ’40s, some wrote it as a short catharsis, but because they did not believe it, they stopped doing it. Others because they were accused of they cooperate, that they slept with Nazis. survive, because they said, ‘if you survived, it would be because you would do anything to achieve it.’ Many felt guilty because they left their families to join clandestine movements, or thought that, unlike those who died in Auschwitz, they did not fare so badly “. It also weighs the fact that “they were very young and had their whole life before them, even though they had no more, no country or family, and their world no longer existed. They had to start over started and found out to have children and for the Jewish community to recover.