THE COURIERS OF THE JEWISH
UNDERGROUND IN POLAND
DURING THE HOLOCAUST
Gusta Davidson Draenger
She was the soul of the conspiratorial undertaking
Gusta Davidson Draenger, also known by her underground name, Justyna, was a leader in the Krakow resistance. She secured hiding places for partisan fighters, accompanied partisan fighting groups to the forest, and smuggled guns. Gusta wrote her extraordinary account of the Krakow resistance organization and her activities in it, from a prison cell after her capture. The resulting memoir Justyna's Narrative was written on bits of toilet paper between interrogations, during which she suffered extreme physical and psychological torture at the hands of the Gestapo. Gusta's diary was hidden in the cell, and then smuggled out in folded triangles. Josef Wolf, in his introduction to Justyna wrote of Gusta in 1945: "She was the soul of the conspiratorial undertaking, not one of the fighting deeds successfully undertaken could have been accomplished without her inspiration and work."65
The women in the Krakow resistance established a network of private dwellings around the forests, each of them furnished and supplied so movement operatives could inhabit them. Fighters left the forest after each action taken against the Nazis and lived in these dwellings. Gusta wrote that this mission was assigned to "Evea, Klara, and Hela, who sought out appropriate living quarters, helping the resistance to act as a 'self-sustaining entity.'"66
Gusta died in a skirmish with the Germans in the Wisnicz forest outside of Krakow. She and her husband's deaths on November 8, 1943 ended the activities of the ZOB in Krakow.