Gusta Dawidson Draenger
Defiant to the end, Gusta Dawidson Draenger wrote Justina’s Diary, her account of the partisan struggles against the Nazis, on toilet paper in a Gestapo prison and inspired others to persevere when all hope seemed lost. Dawidson began her activist career in the Zionist group Akiva as writer and editor of Zeirim, Akiva’s newspaper, and record keeper for the movement. She became a member of the central committee, and when the movement’s older leadership fled to Palestine in 1939, she and two young men remained behind to lead Akiva. She married one of the young men, Shimshon Draenger, in 1940, turning herself in to authorities whenever he was arrested and remaining at his side. Despite surveillance, they helped lead the Krakow resistance, forging papers, smuggling guns, and finding safe houses. When Shimshon was imprisoned in 1943, Draenger turned herself in, withstanding severe torture. Between interrogations, she created multiple copies of Justina’s Diary to ensure the work survived, and rallied her fellow prisoners. The couple escaped on their way to their execution and briefly rejoined the partisans, but when Shimshon was captured during an attempted border crossing, Draenger joined him and was killed alongside him. Her book was discovered by workmen in the prison and finally published in 1946.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Gusta Dawidson Draenger." (Viewed on May 21, 2018) <https://jwa.org/people/draenger-gusta>.