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Fighting Back: A Memoir of Jewish Resistance in World War II Hardcover – October, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0231078825 ISBN-10: 023107882X Edition: 1St Edition
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Jewish partisan unit to which Werner, who died in 1989, belonged--some 400 men and women led by a man named Chiel Grynszpan--operated in the woods of eastern Poland during WW II. Grynszpan's guerrillas performed acts of sabotage against the Germans (blowing up trains, convoys, bridges) and rescued Jews from the Wlodawa ghetto. When the Germans retreated, the Jewish partisans executed Polish civilians who had betrayed Jews in hiding to the Germans during the occupation. The most awesome aspect of this memoir is its stark depiction of the ferocious Polish anti-Semitism before and during the war. Nor did it abate after the war. Werner, who emigrated to the U.S., learned that two of his brothers had been clubbed to death by villagers when they returned to their homes. Told in simple, direct, unemotional language, the book is a valuable document that preserves a record of successful Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

A tale of astonishing success--the small groups slowly grew, joined with other groups, and became a partisan force able to blow up bridges, attack German convoys, rescue other Jews, and exact revenge for earlier betrayals . . . This account has the authority of unvarnished human testimony; Mr. Werner's matter-of-fact tone makes the story he tells all the more horrifying. -- The New Yorker --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1St Edition edition (October 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023107882X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231078825
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on November 1, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thanks to Harold Werner for retelling these events from his deathbed. I read the book in an evening and could not put it down. I am very proud to know that people such as Mr. Werner fought back no matter what the odds. Not only does he write about battles and suffering, but he also writes of the community he grew up with, the people he loved, how people made their living, and how they related to their neighbors.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Neal Bellet on February 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
Fighting Back, by Harold Werner, is the well told story of a group of Jewish partisans, who instead of quietly submitting to the will of their Nazi oppressors, and those anti-semitic villagers, and there seemed to be many, who collaborated with the Nazis in their quest to destroy the Jews of Poland, decided to fight back. The author was one of those partisans. These people had all lost family members and friends to both the Nazis and to many of their neighbors who had once been their friends, and all they wanted was a chance to fight back, an opportunity for revenge. After reading many holocaust books about the camps, or about Jews in hiding, it was a pleasure to finally read one where the Jews actually defended themselves, and if they had to die, they died "Fighting Back." This is a must read.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
This true story takes place in Poland during the late 1930s thru 1946.The main character is a young man named Harold.The trials he experiences prior to WW2 are nothing compaired to the radical changes his life undergoes during the Nazi occupation.There were several things that I enjoyed most about this book.It is scary to realise how treacherous people can be to each other but it is encouraging to see how the human spirit rises to such adverse circumstances.You will follow his life from living in the city to hiding in the forests of Poland while being hunted by villagers and Nazis.Fear and hunger were common among this group of partsians.I found this story easy to read and relate to. This story can parallel any group of people who are oppressed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Brock on April 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read. The author shares his gripping story of fighting both the Nazis and the anti-semitic Polish as a Jewish resistance fighter during the Holocaust. It is an inspiration how during the darkest hours of human misery, man's will to survive, protect the unprotected, and fight back against an enemy committed to their destruction propels them forward despite the odds. Harold Werner and the men and women who fought (and sometimes died) beside him should be remembered as heroes for generations to come.
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Format: Paperback
So much of our perception of the Holocaust is shaped by the popular culture of The Diary of Anne Frank, Schindler's List, Night, The Banality of Evil--the tragic victim, the savior of the helpless, the attempt to describe the unthinkable or analyze the insane. They're all real attempts at an understanding of what's probably the definition of genocide, but Fighting Back adds such a crucial element in describing those that stood their ground, not out of an exceptional courage but as a matter of survival, and is especially moving, even while unassuming, in describing the evolution of ordinary people into extraordinary fighters. It's clear that Harold Werner isn't a professional writer, but in the basic simple clarify of the writing adds to the honesty and strength of the book. His description of the first time he has to kill a Nazi (by stabbing during an escape) is so shortly told without grandiose language, just one step in survival and evolution to a seasoned fighter. His even greater gift is his uncompromising description of, and indictment of, the revoltingly deep anti-Semitism of much of the local population in Poland, their willingness of so many to turn the other way when the Jews were rounded up or to help the Nazi--even many of the supposedly anti-fascist local partisans. How the political and ethnic divisions kept the Jews at risk and the partisans divided is a vital slice of largely untold history, and also adds a very real and deeper explanation of the history than the usual simplistic, if sympathetic, histories of the Holocaust. He's also not afraid to praise the Soviets, and Soviet soldiers, for their bearing the brunt of the destruction of the Nazi war machine on the Eastern front (but doesn't shy from telling their inconsistent behavior either).Read more ›
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