Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment Has Picked Up The Rights To The WWII Novel “Daughters Of The Resistance”

Why would Steven Spielberg commit to the rights of a book that will not be completed until 2020? That is a question not many are asking after it was announced that his Amblin Entertainment media company picked up the rights to the World War 2 memoir. The prevailing theory is that Spielberg continues his interest in diverse perspectives of the Second World War, having already done blockbusters Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. These were not documentaries but dramatized screen events that would have specific moments reliving the harsh realities of the war.

The current media blitz is headlining the book as a feminist take on women’s active participation in the Nazi resistance, but this perspective is out of whack with the reality of history. French women were unquestionably a part of the famed French Resistance forces, so there is nothing new there. There is a uniqueness about this group of women that can easily fall through the cracked floor of history and historical documentaries.

First, the proposed full title of the book is “Daughters of the Resistance: Valor, Fury, and the Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos.” That would likely place the locale of the events in Poland, where the majority of Nazi established ghettos were imprisoning Jews. The largest of these ghettos was in the city of Warsaw, where nearly 450,000 Jews were fenced in a roughly 1.3 square mile area. To contrast this to modern times, the most densely populated city in the world is Dhaka, Bangladesh who packs 15.4 million people in an area of 134 square miles.

Another critical factor in the upcoming story is that the existence of the ghettos was short lived. The first was built in 1940, but when Hitler’s “Final Solution” was ordered in 1942, the ghettos began emptying out as the Jews were sent to the extermination camps. That leaves about a 2 year window for the events to be recorded. The documentation of the life and conditions in the ghettos were stored in milk cans, though few survived the war. This makes the memoirs valuable solely based on their rarity. This likely was a motivator for Spielberg to secure the rights before anyone discovered the actual history behind the upcoming book.

The Germans were not going to allow their atrocities in the ghettos to be recorded, so the entire documentation effort had to be done in secret in combination with the resistance. Compounding the problem was that in the ghettos the Germans had appointed (ordered) select Jews to serve on Jewish councils known as Judenrats, and there was also a Jewish police force created to maintain order in the ghettos. So a member of the resistance could be exposed to the Nazis is one of these officials discovered their rebellion.

All this leaves for a number of great storylines. It is not clear whether Spielberg will be using the entire book or just select portions for his movie(s). But as far the feminist narrative, the history does not seem to bear that out. Spielberg can create a feminist storyline but the resistance effort was more of a united effort by a number of Jewish people who wanted their history preserved for future generations. It can also be a movie that is a history lesson for Americans to cherish their history as a people for future generations instead of tearing it down in favor of a more sanitized version that is digestible.

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