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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied Franceby Caroline Moorehead
Synopses & Reviews
They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen who scrawled "V" for victory on the walls of her lycée; the eldest, a farmer's wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each other, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazi occupiers.
Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, their common experience conquering divisions of age, education, profession, and class, as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.
In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France.
A Train in Winter draws on interviews with these women and their families; German, French, and Polish archives; and documents held by World War II resistance organizations to uncover a dark chapter of history that offers an inspiring portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and survival—and of the remarkable, enduring power of female friendship.
"In an unfocused account, Moorehead relates the story of 230 women accused of being members of the French Resistance who were sent on one train to Auschwitz in January 1943; fewer than 50 survived the war. In fact, only some of the 230 were involved in actual Resistance activities. The youngest prisoner, 16-year-old Rosa Floch, caught writing 'Vive les Anglais!' on her school's walls, died of typhus in Birkenau. Alsatian psychiatrist Adelaide Hautval was arrested after exhorting German soldiers to stop mistreating a Jewish family; she survived the war, but committed suicide after recording the horrors she saw when forced to participate in Josef Mengele's medical experiments at Auschwitz. Moorehead (Human Cargo) wants to recount how these women supported one another and to honor women of the Resistance, but she tries to tell too many stories about a highly diverse group of women, many of them not Resistance members. Though moving, the lack of focus may leave readers confused. Photos. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In January 1943, 230 women of the French Resistance weresent to the death camps by the Nazis who had invaded and occupied theircountry. This is their story, told in full for the first time—a searing andunforgettable chronicle of terror, courage, defiance, survival, and the powerof friendship. Caroline Moorehead, a distinguishedbiographer, human rights journalist, and the author of Dancing to the Precipiceand Human Cargo, brings to life an extraordinary story that readers ofMitchell Zuckoffs Lost in Shangri-La, ErikLarsons In the Garden of Beasts, and Laura Hillenbrands Unbrokenwill find an essential addition to our retelling of the history of WorldWar II—a riveting, rediscovered story of courageous women who sacrificedeverything to combat the march of evil across the world.
About the Author
The author of numerous biographies and works of history, including Gellhorn and Human Cargo, Caroline Moorehead has also written for The Telegraph, The Times, and The Independent. The cofounder of a legal advice center for asylum seekers from Africa, she divides her time between England and Italy.
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History and Social Science » Europe » France » World War II