“A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France”:
World War II, France, German occupation of France, without French resistance towards this takeover of their country…thus this story begins.
Many French were appalled at this atrocity that was happening to their country, yet it happened. Those who wanted to fight against the occupation, to resist the Germans, did so from behind the Gestapo, the Nazi, and the French occupying government. This well-written, detailed book is of French women and men who did resist in many ways. The story centers around 230 women who were part of the French Resistance Movements and Communists. These women (and men) transported (tried to transport) Jews to safe havens, hid resisters, wrote pamphlets/leaflets against the Nazis, sabotaged Nazi trains or the industrial complexes, printed subversive newspapers, carried weapons and secret messages to other resisters.
Over a short period of time, they were captured for their words and actions against the Nazis, and were swept into a prison camp. Of 230 women, ranging in age from 16 to 60s, who were taken from Paris in January, 1943 on a train to the first of many prison camps, only 49 return. They were eventually taken to places such as Auschwitz and Birkenau. This is their story. It is a hard read due to the emotions that leap off page after page, but it is from a side of WWII that I have not dealt with before, but am thankful to know now.
The NY Times said: “And it was their devotion to one another that enabled 49 of them, during what would turn out to be a two-and-a-half-year season in hell, to defy one official’s prediction: “You’re going to a camp from which you’ll never return.” “Moorehead meticulously traces the fates of 230 Frenchwomen sent to Auschwitz as political prisoners of the Reich.”
This book is about friendship, caring, love, and honor. It is also about degradation, inhumanity against humanity, and the inescapable horrors of the death/extermination camps, and manual labor done by those who were healthier than most, but ended up near to death or died working for the German war efforts.
My feelings as I come away from this book is, as many have hoped before me: that we should NEVER experience this again. Sad to say though, our world as we look around has terrible inhumanity to man and woman in far too many places of this world.
Reading Level: Adult Nonfiction
Author: Caroline Moorehead was born in 1944 in London, England. She is a proclaimed biographer, has written columns on human rights, has made a series of TV programs on human rights for the BBC (1990-2000). She has also written the history of the International Committee of the Red Cross (1998) and has helped to set up a Legal Advice Centre for refugees in Cairo, where she has started schools and a nursery. She works as a volunteer on the legal team for the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, while also continuing to review and write on human rights in many different papers.
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date: 10/23/2012
- Pages: 374
- Product dimensions: 5.40 x 7.84 (h) x 0.94 (d)
Review originally published 8-20-2013