Tec, Nechama 1931–

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Tec, Nechama 1931–

PERSONAL: Born May 15, 1931, in Lublin, Poland; came to the United States in 1952, naturalized in 1960; daughter of Roman (in business) and Esther (Hachamoff) Bawnik; married Leon Tec (a child psychiatrist), February 14, 1950; children: Leora, Roland. Education: Columbia University, B.S. (cum laude), 1954, M.A., 1955, Ph.D., 1963.

ADDRESSES: Home—11 Rockyfield Rd., Westport, CT 06880. Office—Department of Sociology, University of Connecticut, Unit 2068, 344 Mansfield Rd, Storrs, CT 06269. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Sociologist, educator, and writer. New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, New York, NY, research sociologist in biometrics, 1956–57; Columbia University, New York, NY, lecturer in School of General Studies, 1957–60; Rutgers University, Douglass College, New Brunswick, NJ, instructor in sociology, 1959–60; Columbia University, lecturer in sociology, 1968–71; Trinity College, Hartford, CT, visiting professor of sociology, 1971–72; University of Connecticut, Stamford, associate professor, 1974–87, professor of sociology, 1987–. Research director, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center, Norwalk, CT, 1968–79. Guest lecturer, Elmhurst (IL) College, April, 1993; scholar at International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, 1995; Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance, Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, scholar-in-residence, 1997. Member of advisory board, Braun Center for Holocaust Studies, and of international advisory board of directors of the Braun Center's Foundation to Sustain Righteous Christians, both of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. Lectures extensively in the United States and abroad; has appeared on numerous television and radio shows.

MEMBER: American Sociological Association, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, PEN, Phi Beta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Merit of Distinction Awards, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, for Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood and When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland; Myrtle Wreath Award in the humanitarian/author category for the state of Connecticut, Hadassah, 1987; Pulitzer Prize nomination and Christopher Award, both 1991, both for In the Lion's Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen; National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1991–92; Littauer Foundation grant, 1992–93; Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture grant, 1992–93; International Anne Frank Special Recognition Prize, 1994, and First Prize for Holocaust Literature, World Federation of Fighters, Partisans and Concentration Camp Inmates in Israel, 1995, both for Defiance; American Society for Yad Vashem achievement award, 2001.


Gambling in Sweden, Bedminster (Totowa, NJ), 1964.

Grass Is Green in Suburbia: A Sociological Study of Adolescent Usage of Illicit Drugs, Libra Publishers (Long Island, NY), 1974.

Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood, Wildcat Publishing (Westport, CT), 1982, published with new epilogue, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1984.

When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1986.

In the Lion's Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Jewish Resistance: Facts, Omissions, and Distortions, Miles Lerman Center for Study of Jewish Resistance (Washington, DC), 1997.

Resilience and Courage: Women, and Men, and the Holocaust, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2003.

Jewish Children: Between Protectors and Murderers, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies (Washington, DC), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World, edited by Peter Hayes, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 1991; Burning Memory: Times of Testing and Reckoning, edited by Alice L. Eckardt, Pergamon (Elmsford, NY), 1993; and The Hidden Child: The Secret Survivors of the Holocaust, Ballantine (New York City), 1993. Contributor to Proceedings of the eighth and ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies, 1982 and 1986. Contributor to numerous periodicals, including International Social Science Review, Adolescence, East European Quarterly, Contemporary Sociology, Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Social Science and Medicine, and Los Angeles Times Book Review. Some of Tec's work has been published in Hebrew and Dutch.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Ongoing research "about compassion, altruism, resistance to evil, and the rescue of Jews during World War II."

SIDELIGHTS: Nechama Tec is a sociologist and writer whose research focuses on issues associated with the Holocaust. Based on interviews with both rescuers and survivors, Tec's When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland "celebrates one segment of Polish society—men and women from many backgrounds and social circumstances who risked their lives to help Jews escape," wrote Michael R. Marrus in the Washington Post Book World. Yet, as Gene Lyons noted in Newsweek, "to read When Light Pierced the Darkness is to encounter the Holocaust anew from a unique and bewildering angle." Tec views the Polish rescuers of Jews during World War II with a certain amount of suspicion. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly observed that "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." Timothy Garton Ash in the New York Review of Books wrote that "Tec concludes … the only sociological generalization that can safely be made about people who helped Jews is that peasants were the class least likely to do so."

Tec again tells of Jewish rescuers during World War II in Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. This time, Tec tells the story of Jewish resistance fighters who, based in Belorussia's Nalibocka Forest, would rescue Jews from ghettos and hide them. The group was extremely successful, rescuing more than 1,200 people and losing only five percent of their fighting force, despite the fact that they were based in the middle of German-occupied territory. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the story "suspenseful and inspiring."

Tec focuses on gender and its impact on the Holocaust in Resilience and Courage: Women, and Men, and the Holocaust. Writing in Social Forces, Lynn Rapaport noted that the author "shows exactly how gender affected the initial stage of German occupation in Eastern Europe, life in the ghettos, concentration camps, the Aryan world, the underground movements, and the forests." Brana Gurewitsch, writing in the Oral History Review, commented: "Tec is careful to avoid creating a hierarchy of suffering. Her study is qualitative; there are no statistics." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book "a ground breaking study of how gender is inexplicably bound to history and experience." Writing in the Library Journal, Frederic Krome also noted the author's "trenchant analysis of the virtues and vices of survivor interviews."



Journal of Modern History, June, 2005, Tim Cole, review of Resilience and Courage: Women, and Men, and the Holocaust, p. 408.

Library Journal, May 1, 2003, Frederic Krome, review of Resilience and Courage, p. 136.

Newsweek, January 27, 1986, Gene Lyons, review of When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland, p. 62.

New York Review of Books, December 19, 1985, Timothy Garton Ash, review of When Light Pierced the Darkness, p. 26.

New York Times Book Review, January 12, 1986, Jan Tomasz Gross, review of When Light Pierced the Darkness, p. 37.

Oral History Review, winter-spring, 2004, Brana Gurewitsch, review of Resilience and Courage, p. 81.

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 1985, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of When Light Pierced the Darkness, p. 49; June 14, 1993, review of Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, p. 57; February 10, 2003, review of Resilience and Courage, p. 172.

Social Forces, March, 2004, Lynn Rapaport, review of Resilience and Courage, p. 1225.

Tikkun, May-June, 2003, review of Resilience and Courage, p. 96A.

Washington Post Book World, March 30, 1986, Michael R. Marrus, review of When Light Pierced the Darkness, p. 10.


Facing History and Ourselves, http://www.facinghistory.org/ (January 13, 2006), "Nechama Tec," profile of author and works.

University of Connecticut Web site, http://www.uconn.edu/ (February 14, 2006), faculty profile of author.