By Austin Ratner, The Forward. Read the full profile here.
“The madness of the brave moves the world forward,” Chaika Grossman said when she was fighting Nazis in the Polish ghettos. She had a ticket out of Poland in 1938 but chose to stay behind and lead the resistance in her hometown of Bialystok. The Nazis entered the city and punished it at the height of their fury; over the next years, they deported and murdered all but a few hundred of Bialystok’s 50,000 Jews. When Soviet troops arrived in 1944, Grossman was still there. She marched alongside the liberating soldiers and later became a leftwing member of the Israeli Knesset who advocated for Arab civil rights and the rights of workers, women and children.
Amy Spitalnick, a modern-day Nazi fighter, has drawn inspiration from Grossman and women like her, whose stories are detailed in Judy Batalion’s book “The Light of Days.” A granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Spitalnick is executive director of the nonprofit Integrity First for America (IFA), which is suing the neo-Nazis who planned the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. This October, after four years of depositions and delays, IFA’s lawsuit Sines v. Kessler will finally go to trial. Its outcome has potentially historic implications.
In late May, Spitalnick joined Batalion at “Nazis to Neo-Nazis: Women’s Path to Resistance Then and Now,” a virtual briefing hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Afterward, I spoke with Spitalnick and her colleague, attorney Roberta Kaplan, by phone and over Zoom. I wanted to know what it’s like to fight Nazis today, when influential mainstream figures like Donald Trump and Tucker Carlson have espoused neo-Nazi positions and given neo-Nazis an unprecedented platform within the Republican Party. If you think that’s hyperbole, facts surrounding Sines v. Kessler may change your mind.
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