Denison University’s Laura C. Harris Series welcomes Judy Batalion.
Batalion will talk about her book, “The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos” (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2021). A New York Times bestseller and winner of a National Jewish Book Award and a Canadian Jewish Literary Award, the book is adapted into an award-winning children’s book, will be translated into 21 languages, and was optioned by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, for whom Judy is co-writing the screenplay.
Born and raised in Montreal, Batalion grew up speaking English, French, Yiddish and Hebrew. She studied the history of science at Harvard then moved to London to pursue a Ph.D. in art history. In 2007, when Batalion was doing research on strong Jewish women at the British Library, she happened to come across a dusty old Yiddish book, “Freuen in di Ghettos” (Women in the Ghettos). This Yiddish thriller about “ghetto girls” who hid revolvers in teddy bears, bribed Nazis with whiskey and pastry, and blew up German supply trains became the inspiration for her book.
One of the most important stories of World War II, “The Light of Days” is 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. As propulsive and thrilling as “Hidden Figures,” “In the Garden of Beasts,” “Band of Brothers,” and “A Train in Winter,” “The Light of Days” tells the true story of these incredible women whose courageous yet little-known feats have been eclipsed by time. 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.
Co-sponsored by The Denison Library