The Female Heroes of the Jewish Resistance to the Nazis

March 30, 2021 | Judy Batalion
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Among the persistent myths about the Holocaust is the claim that European Jews “were led like sheep to the slaughter.” While the Warsaw Ghetto uprising is relatively widely known, it is often considered the exception when in fact it was closer to the rule. Judy Batalion writes:

More than 90 European ghettos had armed Jewish resistance units. Approximately 30,000 European Jews joined [anti-German] partisans. Rescue networks supported about 12,000 Jews in hiding in Warsaw alone. . . . Women, aged sixteen to twenty-five, were at the helm of many of these efforts.

Batalion’s recent research concerns these women. To take one example:

In 1943, Niuta Teitelbaum strolled into a Gestapo apartment on Chmielna Street in central Warsaw and faced three Nazis. A twenty-four-year-old Jewish woman who had studied history at Warsaw University, Niuta was likely now dressed in her characteristic guise as a Polish farm girl with a kerchief tied around her braided blond hair.

She blushed, smiled meekly and then pulled out a gun and shot each one. Two were killed, one wounded. Niuta, however, wasn’t satisfied. She found a physician’s coat, entered the hospital where the injured man was being treated, and killed both the Nazi and the police officer who had been guarding him. “Little Wanda With the Braids,” as she was nicknamed on every Gestapo most-wanted list, was one of many young Jewish women who, with supreme cunning and daring, fought the Nazis in Poland.

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