Nechama Tec’s experiences as a child in the Holocaust led to her career highlighting nontraditional stories of the Holocaust, and inspired the movie Defiance. Tec was eight when the Nazis invaded Poland. Her family survived with the help of Christian families who hid them from the Nazis. She immigrated to America in 1952 and began studying sociology at Columbia, earning her doctorate in 1963. In 1982 she wrote Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood, followed by When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland in 1986. This began her long exploration of courage and altruism that challenged previous theories: righteous gentiles were not purely driven by religious convictions or friendship, but often by a capacity for independent thought and action. Her 1993 book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans showed that Jews could be heroes, not just passive victims. In 2003, she wrote Resilience and Courage: Women, and Men, and the Holocaust, showing the vastly different experiences of male and female survivors. A professor at the University of Connecticut at Stamford since 1974, Tec has also served on the advisory boards for the Anti-Defamation League’s Braun Center for Holocaust Studies and their Foundation to Sustain Righteous Christians.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Nechama Tec." (Viewed on January 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/tec-nechama>.