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They Shall Not Have Me: The Capture, Forced Labor, and Escape of a French Prisoner in World War IIby Jean Helion
Synopses & Reviews
A daring story of imprisonment and escape under the Nazi regime and a moving and engrossing symbol of resilience and integrity.
The French painter Jean Hélions unique and deeply moving account of his experiences in Nazi prisoner of war camps prefigures the even darker stories that would emerge from the concentration camps. This serious adventure tale begins with Hélions infantry platoon fleeing from the German army and warplanes as they advanced through France in the early days of the war. The soldiers chant as they march and run, They shall not have me!” but are quickly captured and sent to hard labor.
Writing in English in 1943, after his risky escape to freedom in the United States, Hélion vividly depicts the sights, sounds, and smells of the camps, and shrewdly sizes up both captors and captured. In the deep humanity, humor, and unsentimental intelligence of his observations, we can recognize the artist whose long career included friendships with the likes of Mondrian, Giacometti, and Balthus, and an important role in shaping modern art movements. Hélions picture of almost two years without his art is a self-portrait of the artist as a man.
About the Author
Jean Hélion was a noted French modernist painter and author. He was a member of the Free French Forces during World War II. His work later influenced Roy Lichtenstein, Nell Blaine, and Leland Bell. He died in 1987.
Deborah M. Rosenthal, consulting editor for the Artists and Art series, is a New York painter and writer. She is a professor of art in the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Rider University.
Jacqueline Hélion, the widow of the painter, lives in Paris.
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