Monday, November 19, 2012

An Essential Addition to the History of World War II: A TRAIN IN WINTER by Caroline Moorehead

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 16-year old schoolgirl who scrawled “V” for victory on the walls of her lycĂ©e; 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 49 would return to France.

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, A Train in Winter:  An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France 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.

Praise for A Train in Winter:

"A necessary book. . . . The literature of wartime France and the Holocaust is by now so vast as to confound the imagination, but when a book as good as this comes along, we are reminded that there is always room for something new."—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post


"The first complete account of these extraordinary women and, incredibly, over 60 years later we are still learning new and terrible truths about the Holocaust. . . . An important new perspective. . . . Careful research and sensitive retelling."—Boston Sunday Globe


"A compelling account of human suffering and courage in the face of appalling brutality. And by the careful use of detail, and an almost obsessive curiosity, Ms. Moorehead has succeeded in frustrating one of the main aims of the Nazis' . . . the memory of 'le Convoi des 3100' has not disappeared."—Wall Street Journal






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