The Women of Poland Who Take Up Arms in 1936

The Women of Poland Who Take Up Arms in 1936

An action spectacle built around true story of female warriors who fought against the Nazis, in 1936.

The Nazis have long been the subject of horror and fascination — and the subject of a movie. In the 1980s, a Hollywood blockbuster called Valkyrie, starring Natalie Wood and Jack Palance, exposed the brutality of the Third Reich. The Holocaust, it turned out to be, was just the “other thing” that brought the world together in the year that Hitler would invade Poland.

Now history has been made again, with Ridley Scott’s new film, the story of a much more tragic event, the women of Poland who took up arms in 1936 on behalf of the Polish government — against the Nazis — an action spectacle built around the true story of a female warrior who fought against the Nazis, in 1936.

I am talking about the great female leader of the Polish Underground — Anna Strzelecka, known to history as Wanda Wasilewska — who was born in 1915, and spent her entire life as a Polish underground fighter, until she was in her late 60s before she herself died, in the 1980s.

The film, called The Act of Killing, tells the story of Wanda’s fight against the Nazis, who by the time the film was made wanted to be rid of the only resistance fighter who was strong enough to fight back. The war was already lost, the Nazis had almost won.

Anna Strzelecka, the female leader of the Polish Underground

What makes this film so compelling is not just that it offers a detailed look at a truly fascinating story, but also that it exposes to us the reality of the situation the Jews, the Russian-speaking Jews, the ones whose stories are generally ignored, were in as the Nazis moved east to their concentration camps.

Wanda was a true heroine, a woman who was fighting for the survival of her people for 50 years and died alone. Many of the leaders of her underground movement were Jewish, including the Polish-Jewish woman, Helena Bohdanowicz.


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