Nechama Tec (née Bawnik) (born 15 May 1931) is a Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of Connecticut.[1] She received her Ph.D. in sociology at Columbia University, where she studied and worked with the sociologist Daniel Bell, and is a Holocaust scholar. Her book When Light Pierced the Darkness (1986) and her memoir Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood (1984) both received the Merit of Distinction Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rit. She is also author of the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans (Oxford University Press (1993, ISBN 0-19-507595-1) on which the film Defiance (2008) is based, as well as a study of women in the Holocaust. She was awarded the 1994 International Anne Frank Special Recognition prize for that book.[2]


She was born in Lublin, Poland to a family of Polish Jews in 1931[3] and was 8 years old when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939.[4] She survived the Holocaust thanks to her life being saved by Polish Catholics.[4][5] After the war she emigrated to Israel and later moved to the United States, where she earned a doctorate at Columbia University.[4]

She is the mother of film director Roland Tec.[6] Her daughter, Leora Tec, is an attorney who did work in the Nazi Hunter Division of the Justice Department (also known as the OSI, or Office of Special Investigations). Her husband, Dr. Leon Tec, was a noted child psychiatrist and author of Fear of Success and the autobiography, Adventure and Destiny.

Nechama Tec was initially shocked by the changes made in adapting her book to make the film Defiance. The Bielski partisans, for example, never actually went into battle against German tanks. However, after seeing the film a number of times, she confessed to liking it "more and more."[7] In a joint appearance with Roland Tec at a screening of the film in January 2011, she denied ever being unhappy with the film, and they both agreed that alterations of the story made for dramatic effect in the film did not alter the essential message of the story.

Dr. Tec was appointed to the Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and served in 1995 as a Scholar in Residence at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, in Israel.


  • Resistance: Jews and Christians Who Defied the Nazi Terror. University Press: Oxford 2013.
  • Letters of Hope and Despair. University Press: Cambridge 2007.
  • Resilience and Courage: Women, Men, and the Holocaust. University Press: Yale 2003.
  • Defiance: The Bielski Partisans. University Press: Oxford 1993.
  • In The Lion's Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen. University Press: Oxford 1990.
  • When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland. University Press: Oxford 1986.
  • Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood. University Press: Oxford 1984.
  • Grass Is Green in Suburbia: A Sociological Study of Adolescent Usage of Illicit Drugs. Libra Pub 1974.[1]

Lectures and articles


  • 2012 Prakhin International Literary Award "The Truth about Holocaust & Stalinist Repression" for the book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Stamford Campus Directory: Tec, Nechama". University of Connecticut. Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ Patterson, David; Berger, Alan L.; Cargas, Sarita, eds. (2002). Encyclopedia of Holocaust Literature. Oryx Holocaust Series. Greenwood. p. 195. ISBN 978-1573562577. Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ Menszer, John. "Bibliography [Abstract of Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood]". Holocaust Survivors. Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ a b c Author gains new exposure from Holocaust film, Jan. 26, 2009 article in JTA.
  5. ^ Nechama Tec: Jak ocalałam, Nov. 25, 2005 article in Gazeta Wyborcza (Polish).
  6. ^ Tec, Nechama (2009-01-02). "My lives in their hands". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  7. ^ Zychowicz, Piotr (Jan 23, 2009). "Tewje nie był gwałcicielem, kobiety same się do niego garnęły [interview with Nehama Tec]". Rzeczpospolita (in Polish). Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  8. ^ "Non-Fiction Works Past Winners". Prakhin International Literary Foundation. Retrieved April 2015.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)