Everyone knows the name of Anne Frank but few people remember anything about the people who sheltered her. Who were the rescuers and what motivated them to risk their lives for persecuted Jews? Clearly such people deserve to be remembered and honored. And clearly an understanding of their motivations may help us cultivate such behavior in our own day.
Focusing on such "righteous Christians," Tec, herself a survivor helped by Poles, vividly recreates what it was like to pass and hide among Christians and what it was like for Poles to rescue Jews. Concentrating on Poland, the Nazi center for Jewish annihilation, Tec amassed a vast array of published accounts, unpublished testimonies, and interviews, yielding case histories of over 500 Polish helpers, preserving for posterity the heroism of such people, and filling a significant gap in our knowledge of the Holocaust.
"A fine study of Polish rescuers who saved Jews during World War II. Nechama Tec's personal experiences during the Holocaust add a special dimension to her systematic and well researched study. The book is thought-provoking and generates excellent class discussion."--Yaffa Eliach, Brooklyn College
"A valuable contribution to the literature on the Holocaust. It is a book enlightened by her own experiences and the discipline of a scholar attempting to understand how and why people reacted in a time when evil seemed dominant."--Menorah Review
"Tec is a scholar, a gifted writer and a woman who personally experienced much about what she writes. Her book sheds important new light on the complex and distressing question of the behavior of European Christians during the Holocaust."--Gerald Green, author of Holocaust
"When Light Pierced the Darkness deserves a wide readership. The many stories of sacrifice, narrow escapes, betrayal, and capture show just how special this [Polish Christian] religious belief was, and they make for interesting and instructive reading."--Christianity Today
"A thoroughly researched study that will greatly assist in the sorting out of the complex story of wartime Polish-Jewish relations....Should remain the definitive study on the subject for the foreseeable future. It gives the best insights into why Poland had at once the best and worst possible conditions for rescuing Jews from the Nazis."--Journal of Church and State
"An important addition to the books that explore this dark time."--Jewish Advocate
"Peril, sacrifice and heroism emerge in vivid testimony that instructs and inspires. Nechama Tec has recovered from obscurity and silence invaluable memories of the rescued and the rescuers."--David Altshuler, George Washington University
"Of the recent additions to the ever-growing body of Holocaust literature, this publication is among the best....A study rich in both poignant narrative and scholarly analysis....It helps fill a long-standing lacuna in Holocaust literature."--Emory Studies on the Holocaust
"[An] excellent book...Not only is Tec's book the first thorough treatment of the subject, but it is also charged with a poignancy that only a survivor can summon."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"A first-rate systematic examination, scrupulous and thoughtful, of what makes a hero."--The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"[A] moving and thorough investigation into the puzzle of human bravery, error, charity and self-preservation exemplified in the Polish rescue effort."--Newsday
"A remarkable book."--The New York Review of Books
"A book that is long overdue and a valuable contribution to both Holocaust history and the study of human nature. Tec's work is a 'must' read for those interested in understanding the Holocaust."--The Jewish Reporter
"An extraordinary book and, I think, an indispensable one for Holocaust studies....An important book about an important phenomenon--one that will, I am sure, withstand the test of time."--American Journal of Sociology
"To read When Light Pierced the Darkness is to encounter the Holocaust from a unique, bewildering angle."--Newsweek
"[Tec] has produced a profoundly humane and brave work that transcends both the limitations of personal anecdote and the endemic aridity of modern sociological prose."--American Statesman
"[A] masterful, instructive study....Balancing a scientist's dispassion and her own clearly passionate attitudes toward both the Holocaust and Poland, Tec presents systematic sociological evidence about the characteristics of people apt to risk their lives to save others."--Publishers Weekly
"A worthwhile book; it delves into an important subject and provides better insights than any other I have seen on the subject."--Darrell Jodock, Muhlenberg College
"A worthy effort to recover from survivors...the story of rescuers and the rescued who managed to outlive the nightmare of Jewish persecutions in Poland during World War II....The book is a pioneering monograph and deserves kudos for this....The book is recommended to every library, public and academic, and to all readers interested in human relations."--International Journal On World Peace.
"An important and insightful book which makes a great contribution to the Holocaust literature."--Piotr S. Wandycz, Yale University