Thanks to the success of feature film Defiance (2008), Americans now associate the history of Jewish partisans with the hunky Bielski brothers, played by Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jaime Bell. In the film’s depiction of their society hidden deep in the forest women contributed by cooking and gathering food but not so much as leaders or fighters. The real story of female Jewish partisans-in the Bielski encampment and elsewhere-is, of course, much richer.
During World War II, thousands of Jewish women demonstrated extraordinary strength and determination to fight back as partisans against the Nazis and their collaborators. Faced with the constant threat of death, these women, many of them teens, overcame near-impossible odds. Here are just a few of their stories:
Matilde Bassani Finzi, an Italian Jew, was a member of the partisan group Comando Partigiano Supremo (the Supreme Partisan Command). After Germany invaded Italy, Bassani Finzi went to work passing information between partisan groups, writing and distributing anti-fascist and anti-Nazi newsletters and newspapers, stealing flashlights and medicines from the Germans on the pretext of activity for the Red Cross, and more. In April 1944 she was captured by the Germans outside the Vatican, where she had tried to secure sanctuary for Jews. She managed to escape, despite a gunshot wound to the leg.
Read More: @ jwa.org
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