This substantial tome is subtitled to indicate that it is the untold story of the women fighters of the Jewish resistance. I had to pick it off the shelf in the bookshop as I had always associated the term 'resistance' with France and the struggles that country underwent during les années noir. This book provided a very different picture.
Beginning in Będzin in Poland this is the story of a number of women and their families who lived through the rise of Nazism, the invasion of their country and the terrible and constant tightening of restrictions that were instituted by the Third Reich during the thirties and forties.
The pace and timbre of the story are quite sedate at the outset. Despite the difficulties encountered and the enclosure of a nation of people in ghettos, still, the tone is positive and there seemed to me to be an overwhelming sense of optimism that everything would be alright in the end. As the individual stories of the women are told, the encroaching danger and the insidiousness of their fate begins to filter through. The tone of the story changes and the narrative becomes more urgent and more demanding.
I found this book to be a fascinating exposé of life in the ghettos. The build-up to the insurrection that has become known as the Warsaw rebellion is an incredible piece of writing. It is clear from the seventy-odd pages of supporting notes and bibliography that the subject has been very widely researched.
As a reader, there were times when I had to put the book down – the subject matter needed time to be assimilated. At other times, there were points where I was thrown out of the narrative for various different reasons - some as mundane as typos some in disbelief at the scene described. There were times when I found the narrative voice to be so harsh and shouty that I desperately needed to walk away from the book. By the time I got to the last page, I felt mentally weary. Perhaps that was the author’s conscious and deliberate intention. I don’t know. But, however you look at that, I would have thought it was better to keep the reader’s eyes on the page and their interest engaged.
Overall, it is a story that had to be told and I am grateful for the opportunity to increase my knowledge.
You may wish to read reviews of other stories that also needed to be told. Just click the following links The Volunteer The Infiltrators The Passenger
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