In Judy Batalion’s book The Light of Days, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland—some still in their teens—helped transform the Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis after witnessing the brutal murder of their families and neighbors and the violent destruction of their communities. With courage, guile, and nerves of steel, these “ghetto girls” paid off Gestapo guards, hid revolvers in loaves of bread and jars of marmalade, and helped build systems of underground bunkers. They flirted with German soldiers, bribed them with wine, whiskey, and home cooking, used their Aryan looks to seduce them, and shot and killed them. They bombed German train lines and blew up a town’s water supply.
Arthur Magida’s book Code Name: Madeleine tells the story of Sufi spy Noor Inayat Khan. She was an introspective musician and writer, dedicated to her family and to her father’s spiritual values of harmony, beauty, and tolerance. She did not seem destined for wartime heroism. Yet, faced with the evils of Nazi violence and the German occupation of France, Noor joined the British Special Operations Executive and trained in espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance. She became a high-value target for the Nazis and when she was eventually captured, attempted two daring escapes before she was sent to Dachau and killed just months before the end of the war.