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JUSTYNA'S NARRATIVE by Gusta Davidson Draenger

JUSTYNA'S NARRATIVE

By Gusta Davidson Draenger

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-55849-037-X

 The memoir of a young Jewish resistance fighter, written in a Polish prison during WW II shortly before the author's escape--and death. All Holocaust narratives are sad, but some are more profoundly moving than others--for example, the story of Draenger. Justyna (her resistance alias) was 25 years old when she penned this narrative in 1943, after turning herself in to the Polish police to be with her husband, who had been captured. She was repeatedly tortured by the Gestapo, but despite her suffering, and with the help of her fellow women inmates, she managed to write her story on scraps of toilet paper sewed together with threads ripped from the prisoners' clothing. In it she tells of her activities in the Jewish youth resistance: how young men and women in their teens and twenties fought valiantly with few weapons and little hope of victory against the most terrible killing machine in humanity's history; of their dreams and ponderings, their suffering and joy. Draenger's story is tragic, first, because she and the people she wrote about were young and courageous, and most of them died horribly at the hands of the Nazis. But the narrative is also sad because it does not always do justice to the remarkable effort devoted to creating it, nor to the amazing woman who wrote it. Draenger wanted the memoir to be literary, but with no chance to edit what she wrote under such horrible circumstances, the result is often disjointed. And because she was writing a ``heroic narrative,'' she turned all of her characters into stock figures instead of the true-to-life heroes they were. She and her husband rejoined the underground after escaping from prison and died while fighting the Nazis. Reading her final words, one is most affected by the thought of what this exceptional woman might have done had she lived in a different time and a better place. (10 illustrations, not seen)