A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

by Caroline Moorehead

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In January 1943, 230 women of the French Resistance were sent to the death camps by the Nazis who had invaded and occupied their country. This is their story, told in full for the first time—a searing and unforgettable chronicle of terror, courage, defiance, survival, and the power of friendship. Caroline Moorehead, a distinguished biographer, human rights journalist, and the author of Dancing to the Precipice and Human Cargo, brings to life an extraordinary story that readers of Mitchell Zuckoff’s Lost in Shangri-La, Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts, and Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken will find an essential addition to our retelling of the history of World War II—a riveting, rediscovered story of courageous women who sacrificed everything to combat the march of evil across the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062097767
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/08/2011
Series: The Resistance Quartet , #1
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 10,051
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Caroline Moorehead is the New York Times bestselling author of Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France; A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France; and Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An acclaimed biographer, Moorehead has also written for the New York Review of Books, the Guardian, the Times, and the Independent. She lives in London and Italy.

Read an Excerpt

A Train in Winter

An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
By Caroline Moorehead


Copyright © 2011 Caroline Moorehead
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061650703

Chapter One

An enormous toy full of subtleties

What surprised the Parisians, standing in little groups along the
Champs-Elysées to watch the German soldiers take over their city
in the early hours of 14 June 1940, was how youthful and healthy
they looked. Tall, fair, clean shaven, the young men marching to
the sounds of a military band to the Arc de Triomphe were
observed to be wearing uniforms of good cloth and gleaming
boots made of real leather. The coats of the horses pulling the
cannons glowed. It seemed not an invasion but a spectacle. Paris
itself was calm and almost totally silent. Other than the steady
waves of tanks, motorized infantry and troops, nothing moved.
Though it had rained hard on the 13th, the unseasonal great heat
of early June had returned.
And when they had stopped staring, the Parisians returned to
their homes and waited to see what would happen. A spirit of
attentisme, of holding on, doing nothing, watching, settled over
the city.
The speed of the German victory – the Panzers into Luxembourg
on 10 May, the Dutch forces annihilated, the Meuse crossed on
13 May, the French army and air force proved obsolete, ill
equipped, badly led and fossilized by tradition, the British
Expeditionary Force obliged to fall back at Dunkirk, Paris bombed
on 3 June – had been shocking. Few had been able to take in the
fact that a nation whose military valour was epitomized by the
battle of Verdun in the First World War and whose defenses had
been guaranteed by the supposedly impregnable Maginot line,
had been reduced, in just six weeks, to a stage of vassalage. Just
what the consequences would be were impossible to see; but they
were not long in coming.
By midday on the 14th, General Sturnitz, military commandant
of Paris, had set up his headquarters in the Hotel Crillon. Since
Paris had been declared an open city there was no destruction.
A German flag was hoisted over the Arc de Triomphe, and
swastikas raised over the Hôtel de Ville, the Chamber of Deputies,
the Senate and the various ministries. Edith Thomas, a young
Marxist historian and novelist, said they made her think of 'huge
spiders, glutted with blood'. The Grand Palais was turned into a
garage for German lorries, the École Polytechnique into a barracks.
The Luftwaffe took over the Grand Hotel in the Place de l'Opéra.
French signposts came down; German ones went up. French time
was advanced by one hour, to bring it into line with Berlin. The
German mark was fixed at almost twice its pre-war level. In the
hours after the arrival of the occupiers, sixteen people committed
suicide, the best known of them Thierry de Martel, inventor in
France of neurosurgery, who had fought at Gallipoli.
The first signs of German behaviour were, however, reassuring.
All property was to be respected, providing people were obedient
to German demands for law and order. Germans were to take
control of the telephone exchange and, in due course, of the
railways, but the utilities would remain in French hands. The
burning of sackfuls of state archives and papers in the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs, carried out as the Germans arrived, was inconvenient,
but not excessively so, as much had been salvaged. General
von Brauchtisch, commander-in-chief of the German troops,
ordered his men to behave with 'perfect correctness'. When it
became apparent that the Parisians were planning no revolt, the
curfew, originally set for forty-eight hours, was lifted. The French,
who had feared the savagery that had accompanied the invasion
of Poland, were relieved. They handed in their weapons, as
instructed, accepted that they would henceforth only be able to
hunt rabbits with terriers or stoats, and registered their much
loved carrier pigeons. The Germans, for their part, were astonished
by the French passivity.
When, over the next days and weeks, those who had fled south
in a river of cars, bicycles, hay wagons, furniture vans, ice-cream
carts, hearses and horse-drawn drays, dragging behind them
prams, wheelbarrows and herds of animals, returned, they were
amazed by how civilized the conquerors seemed to be. There was
something a little shaming about this chain reaction of terror, so
reminiscent of the Grand Peur that had driven the French from
their homes in the early days of the revolution of 1797. In 1940
it was not, after all, so very terrible. The French were accustomed
to occupation; they had endured it, after all, in 1814, 1870 and
1914, and then there had been chaos and looting. Now they
found German soldiers in the newly reopened Galeries Lafayette,
buying stockings and shoes and scent for which they scrupulously
paid, sightseeing in Notre Dame, giving chocolates to small children
and offering their seats to elderly women on the métro.
Soup kitchens had been set up by the Germans in various parts
of Paris, and under the flowering chestnut trees in the Jardin des
Tuileries, military bands played Beethoven. Paris remained eerily
silent, not least because the oily black cloud that had enveloped
the city after the bombing of the huge petrol dumps in the Seine
estuary had wiped out most of the bird population. Hitler, who
paid a lightning visit on 28 June, was photographed slapping his
knee in delight under the Eiffel Tower. As the painter and photographer
Jacques Henri Lartigue remarked, the German conquerors
were behaving as if they had just been presented with a wonderful
new toy, 'an enormous toy full of subtleties which they do not
On 16 June, Paul Reynaud, the Prime Minister who had presided
over the French government's flight from Paris to Tours and then
to Bordeaux, resigned, handing power to the much loved hero of
Verdun, Marshal Pétain. At 12.30 on the 17th, Pétain, his thin,
crackling voice reminding Arthur Koestler of a 'skeleton with a
chill', announced over the radio that he had agreed to head a new
government and that he was asking Germany for an armistice.
The French people, he said, were to 'cease fighting' and to
cooperate with the German authorities. 'Have confidence in the
German soldier!' read posters that soon appeared on every wall.
The terms of the armistice, signed after twenty-seven hours of
negotiation in the clearing at Rethondes in the forest of Compiègne
in which the German military defeat had been signed at the end
of the First World War, twenty-two years before, were brutal. The
geography of France was redrawn. Forty-nine of France's eighty-
seven mainland departments – three-fifths of the country – were
to be occupied by Germany. Alsace and Lorraine were to be
annexed. The Germans would control the Atlantic and Channel
coasts and all areas of important heavy industry, and have the
right to large portions of French raw materials. A heavily guarded
1,200-kilometre demarcation line, cutting France in half and
running from close to Geneva in the east, west to near Tours,
then south to the Spanish border, was to separate the occupied
zone in the north from the 'free zone' in the south, and there
would be a 'forbidden zone' in the north and east, ruled by the
German High Command in Brussels. An exorbitant daily sum
was to be paid over by the French to cover the costs of occupation.
Policing of a demilitarized zone along the Italian border was
to be given to the Italians – who, not wishing to miss out on the
spoils, had declared war on France on 10 June.
The French government came to rest in Vichy, a fashionable
spa on the right bank of the river Allier in the Auvergne. Here,
Pétain and his chief minister, the appeaser and pro-German Pierre
Laval, set about putting in place a new French state. On paper
at least, it was not a German puppet but a legal, sovereign state
with diplomatic relations. During the rapid German advance,
some 100,000 French soldiers had been killed in action, 200,000
wounded and 1.8 million others were now making their way into
captivity in prisoner-of-war camps in Austria and Germany, but
a new France was to rise out of the ashes of the old. 'Follow me,'
declared Pétain: 'keep your faith in La France Eternelle'. Pétain
was 84 years old. Those who preferred not to follow him scrambled
to leave France – over the border into Spain and Switzerland
or across the Channel – and began to group together as the Free
French with French nationals from the African colonies who had
argued against a negotiated surrender to Germany.
In this France envisaged by Pétain and his Catholic, conservative,
authoritarian and often anti-Semitic followers, the country
would be purged and purified, returned to a mythical golden age
before the French revolution introduced perilous ideas about
equality. The new French were to respect their superiors and the
values of discipline, hard work and sacrifice and they were to
shun the decadent individualism that had, together with Jews,
Freemasons, trade unionists, immigrants, gypsies and communists,
contributed to the military defeat of the country.
Returning from meeting Hitler at Montoire on 24 October,
Pétain declared: 'With honour, and to maintain French unity . . .
I am embarking today on the path of collaboration'. Relieved
that they would not have to fight, disgusted by the British bombing
of the French fleet at anchor in the Algerian port of Mers-el-Kebir,
warmed by the thought of their heroic fatherly leader, most French
people were happy to join him. But not, as it soon turned out,
all of them.
* * *
Long before they reached Paris, the Germans had been preparing
for the occupation of France. There would be no gauleiter – as in
the newly annexed Alsace-Lorraine – but there would be military
rule of a minute and highly bureaucratic kind. Everything from the
censorship of the press to the running of the postal services was
to be under tight German control. A thousand railway officials
arrived to supervise the running of the trains. France was to be
regarded as an enemy kept in faiblesse inférieure, a state of
dependent weakness, and cut off from the reaches of all Allied
forces. It was against this background of collaboration and
occupation that the early Resistance began to take shape.
A former scoutmaster and reorganiser of the Luftwaffe, Otto
von Stülpnagel, a disciplinarian Prussian with a monocle, was
named chief of the Franco-German Armistice Commission.
Moving into the Hotel Majestic, he set about organizing the
civilian administration of occupied France, with the assistance of
German civil servants, rapidly drafted in from Berlin. Von
Stülpnagel's powers included both the provisioning and security
of the German soldiers and the direction of the French economy.
Not far away, in the Hotel Crillon in the rue de Rivoli, General
von Sturnitz was busy overseeing day to day life in the capital.
In requisitioned hotels and town houses, men in gleaming boots
were assisted by young German women secretaries, soon known
to the French as 'little grey mice'.
There was, however, another side to the occupation, which was
neither as straightforward, nor as reasonable; and nor was it as
tightly under the German military command as von Stülpnagel
and his men would have liked. This was the whole apparatus of
the secret service, with its different branches across the military
and the police.
After the protests of a number of his generals about the behaviour
of the Gestapo in Poland, Hitler had agreed that no SS
security police would accompany the invading troops into France.
Police powers would be placed in the hands of the military
administration alone. However Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, the
myopic, thin-lipped 40-year-old Chief of the German Police, who
had long dreamt of breeding a master race of Nordic Ayrans, did
not wish to see his black-shirted SS excluded. He decided to
dispatch to Paris a bridgehead of his own, which he could later
use to send in more of his men. Himmler ordered his deputy,
Reinhard Heydrich, the cold-blooded head of the Geheime Staatspolizei
or Gestapo, which he had built up into an instrument of terror,
to include a small group of twenty men, wearing the uniform of the Abwehr's
secret military police, and driving vehicles with military plates.
In charge of this party was a 30-year-old journalist with a
doctorate in philosophy, called Helmut Knochen. Knochen was
a specialist in Jewish repression and spoke some French. After
commandeering a house on the avenue Foch with his team of
experts in anti-terrorism and Jewish affairs, he called on the Paris
Prefecture, where he demanded to be given the dossiers on all
German émigrés, all Jews, and all known anti-Nazis. Asked by
the military what he was doing, he said he was conducting research
into dissidents.
Knochen and his men soon became extremely skillful at infiltration,
the recruitment of informers and as interrogators.
Under him, the German secret services would turn into the most feared
German organization in France, permeating every corner of the Nazi system.


Excerpted from A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead Copyright © 2011 by Caroline Moorehead. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Part One

1 An enormous toy full of subtleties 15

2 The flame of French resistance 35

3 Daughters of the Enlightenment 69

4 The hunt for resisters 100

5 Waiting for the wolf 137

6 Indulgent towards women 156

7 Recognising the unthinkable 198

8 'We have other plans for them' 219

9 Frontstalag 122 249

Part Two

10 Le Convoi des 31000 301

11 The meaning of friendship 346

12 Keeping alive, remaining me 360

13 The disposables 401

14 Pausing before the battle 437

15 Slipping into the shadows 476

Appendix: the women 527

Source notes 566

List of illustrations 577

Bibliography 581

Acknowledgments 594

What People are Saying About This

Jonathan Yardley

“A necessary book. . . . Compelling and moving. . . . 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.”

Meredith Maran

“[A] moving novelistic portrait. . . . An inspiring and fascinating read.”

Caroline Weber

“By turns heartbreaking and inspiring.”

Judith Chettle

“Even history’s darkest moments can be illuminated by spectacular courage, such as courage that Caroline Moorehead movingly celebrates in A Train in Winter. . . . Moorehead has created a somber account, sensitively rendered, of yet another grim legacy of war.”

Meganne Fabrega

“As Moorehead delves deeply into the women’s fight for survival, her narrative seamlessly comes together in order to share a significant part of history whose time has come to be heard.”

Buzzy Jackson

“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.”

Elysa Gardner

“[Moorehead] traces the lives and deaths of all her subjects with unswerving candor and compassion. . . . In Moorehead’s telling, neither evil nor good is banal; and if the latter doesn’t always triumph, it certainly inspires.”

Natasha Lehrer

“An extremely moving and intensely personal history of the Auschwitz universe as experienced by these women. . . . A powerful and moving book.”

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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 120 reviews.
Carl80 More than 1 year ago
This book falls under the heading of true crime. It deals with mass murder, attempted genocide and a side of France in the 1940's that is generally not well-known. This is also one of the most difficult and amazing books I have ever had the priviledge of reading. This is, as the cover states, "an extraordinary story of women, friendship and resistance in occupied France." In mid-June, 1940, the German army occupied Paris and France fell. There was, for a while, a partition, Vichy France under the aging Marshall Petain. At first, relations between the occupiers and the subjugated French were almost cordial. During the next two years many of France's second-class citizens, it's women, took up the battle and became foundations and facilitators of the much celebrated French Resistance, all over the nation. It's noteworthy that French women were denied the priviledge of voting until 1944. Ironically, dismissive attitudes toward women worked to their advantage as they became top organizers and couriers in the resistance. Gradually, informers and collaborators working with the Gestapo amassed evidence of women's activities, arresting and gathering women into prisons. In January, 1943, 230 women, the youngest 15, the oldest in her sixties, were loaded into cattle cars and shipped east, to Auschwitz. Only 49 survived to the end of the war. This is the well-documented story of those women. The author has, through extensive archival research, personal interviews with survivors, and family members, and the development of original sources, pieced together the individual and collective stories of these ordinary yet incredible women. The stories are set against the political and the social turmoil of the times. The women, from all classes of society across the political and social spectrums, bonded together to support one another in fighting for their survival. They had no weapons save their wits, their intelligence and their essential humanity, against a huge and terrible effort to obliterate them. Only a few were Jews. That any survived is testament to their grit, their determination and their mutual support. This work is meticulously documented with an extensive bibliography, source notes by chapter, and short biographies of the women who live again in these pages. Moorehead's tone is straightforward; no hysteria, no loud condemnations, there are no exclamation points. But the book, in the weight of its facts here illuminated, is condemnatory. It condems Nazis, the Gestapo, and French collaborators as well as the post-war government of France which preferred to forget much of the pestilence that came with the occupying German army. This is a book that should be read by anyone with the slightest interest in human rights and human history. It throws a bright light on an aspect of World War II in Europe little known or studied. And the book is a reminder that we who ignore the lessons of history will inevitably suffer repetition of those devastations.
MystiqueLady More than 1 year ago
Wow! This is truly a well researched and compellingly written book. The stories of these women and the hardships they endured together is a testament to the power of the human spirit. I kept having to remind myself that this was a non-fiction work. I hope someone makes this into a movie. One of the best things about this book is it tells the reader what life was like AFTER survivors of the Nazi death camp system were liberated and went home.
GreenEyedReader More than 1 year ago
EXTRAORDINARY TRUE TALE This story is incredible. The true story of women in France who were part of the Resistance during WW2. I have to say thqt is is the first time I've read a Holocaust book(and I read many) in this format-the true story told in a sort of text book style- lots of facts, names, dates,etc. I learned A LOT! Mostly, when you think of concentration camps-Aucshwitz, Treblinka, etc- you think of the Jews that were sent there; you don't realize that others were also condemed. The French(as in this story),Gypsies, Poles, Hungarians,men, women and children- not all Jews, just people who "did wrong" against the Germans; also the different political parties that were involved, namely the Communists. This is a gut wrenching story of the French women who went throught this excruciating time. Their struggle for survival - or not- their incredible resilience, strength, bonding, freindship and support of each other. This is not light reading and should be taken as a learning experience.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
The author begins by taking readers to the beginning of the occupation of Paris. The citizens are standing and watching the German soldiers march down the Champs-Elysees to the sounds of a military band. Both the soldiers, and the steeds that were pulling their cannons, were just a parade to the people. They were all dressed beautifully and 'spit-polished' to the maximum. After the Parisians watched the grand spectacle, they returned to their homes to 'wait and see' what Paris would become. But the 'shiny' spectacle that looked like a dream disappeared as the nightmare began, because the very speed with which the Germans took control was absolutely overwhelming to one and all. There were courageous women in occupied France that joined the Resistance to help their families and countrymen get along under the German rule. They were of all ages and came from all walks of life. These women were not friends at the time; in fact, they did not know one another at all, but they shared true hate for their German rulers. As time passed, the Nazis/Gestapo found these women and put them into a prison in Paris, where they became friends despite the differences in their ages, classes, and lifestyles. Together, they found the strength to go on. In January of 1943, they were sent by train to Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The oldest woman was 67, the youngest was just 17. The women numbered 230 when they left Paris, but by the time the Allies arrived to liberate them, there were only 49 who had survived the nightmare. Of course, even though the 49 were still alive, their lives after the war were mostly devoid of happiness, for there was no way to ever 'shake' off the hideousness of what they had lived through. This author interviewed as many of these women as she could locate, utilizing archives to gather the rest of the information. This is a truly unforgettable book about a group of amazingly brave women, some of which survived Hitler's hellish treatment. This historical journey does not only offer data and pictures, it offers an intense emotional ride from eye-witnesses who were embroiled every day in the worst locale that was ever created. One woman stated: Looking at me, one would think that I'm alive ... I'm not alive. I died in Auschwitz, but no one knows it. The words, the stories, the facts.everything about these women should be remembered for the rest of time. Quill Says: A book that permeates the soul and reminds us all that wars do absolutely nothing but destroy innocent lives.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I began to read this book I had a hard time with all the names being presented- names, occupations, religious preferences,nationalities and family members names and ages. There is a lot of information in the beginning and I thought how in the world will this author ever bring all this information and all these people together. It took several chapters but dear God she did it.....she brought all the information and names together in concentration camps and death camps. I will always try harder to absorb information presented in a book such as this. I am ashamed of myself for trying to hurry this book along and for almost putting it down and not even give it a chance. Please read this book carefully. The people that suffered and died and suffered and survived deserve for all of us to gather information on this time in history and keep it in our hearts and never, never forget.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To say I enjoyed this book would seem odd because it is such a serious subject but was thoroughly fascinating. The courage and strength these women displayed is incredible. Just when I thought I had heard all there was about Nazi cruelty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok, this book took 140pgs before i could understand and follow the writting. I think the author could have done better in the beginning of the book and made it more reader friendly. But after struggling it finally came to the meat of the story of the French Friends impriosoned for resistance activity and the horrors of WWII. If you can't stomach harsh and inhumane treatment of humans then this book will be hard for you to read. But for me it was an awakening as to that period of HIstory that I new little about. In retrospect, i am glad to have read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like true stories this one will make you laugh and cry. How brave these women were. I learned so much more of what went on in WWII and what my father seen while fighting over there. I loved the book. Great lessons to be learned by everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very moving story of female companionship and how important friendship is when it comes to surviving such horrific conditions and brutality. I would highly recommend reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moorehead unveils both the shame of an occupied nation that betrayed its citizens to the Nazis and the amazing courage and hope of the women, young and old, of the French Resistance. The account follows a group of individuals drawn together after each was captured. One of the few books about this terrible period of history that left me sensing the same optimism and determination of the French resistance that I experienced when visiting the Museum of the Liberation in Paris and read their notes and letters, including love letters. Taken from personal interviews with the women who survived, it affirms best of women in the worst of times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It seems to me that there was alot of research that went into this book. Caroline Moorehead really did her homework on this one. I am amazed what the human mind and body can go through and still keep things together. You must read this one. Everyone should hear these womens's story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A remarkable book about remarkable women who banded together to persevere and survive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't say enough good things about this book. Well written and just a must must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 90 years young and lived in the US during this time but was unaware of the severity of the French situaation. People from many European countries were sent to concentration camps. Jewish people were defineltly sent and treated the worst. The book is written somewhat like a documentary but is really a novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Part One amazes and inspires, giving insight in the lives and courageous acts of resistance by these extraordinary women and does not prepare for the deep and heart-wrenching impact of Part Two. A hard book but necessary. Deeply disturbed me and yet opened my eyes to some realities I had so far just seen from a distance. Wow!
PEEKY001 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
very interesting story of the women that were involved in the underground movement in france during ww2. many of these woman were arrested by being exposed as a result of neighbors or other people that they knew. the harsh treatment for them at the camps, makes me sad that i own a german made car. ww2 in europe was filled with chaos; yet the nazis kept near perfect records. photos indicating their good life, was a grand contrast to those that suffered. i did find that i got bogged down in the numerous names and tried to keep them in order.... perhaps a list in the beginning of the book would have made that easier. some of the woman are still alive and i am wondering if this will be made into a film?
CathiMD More than 1 year ago
Great read, I couldn't put it down.
SusanattheCastle More than 1 year ago
I liked this book. I was amazed at how I got caught up in the thrill of the young women who worked in the resistance and seemed not to realize the depth of consequences they had. Part 2 turned horrific. A great memoir worth reading. I always ask myself, "Would I have been brave enough to do this?" While I like to think I would, I shudder at what it could be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a 69 year old woman, I have read much about this dark period of time in history. This book, with the telling of personal stories, made it real. The night I finished the book, I woke up many times with the stories of these women running through my mind. The sadness of the women who didn't come home and the triumph of the women who did will forever be in my heart.
Old_Ranger_Fan More than 1 year ago
This was more of a bibliography of who was on the train and a brief summary of them. That is before I quit after about 200 pages.
Anonymous 21 days ago
A well written account of the best and worst human nature has to offer! What brave woman. The amount of research and interviews reflects the care and integrity of the author. A great read.
Heduanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The writing, I'm afraid, is costing this a star: it was very hard to keep track of the cast of dozens, it's frequently unclear which of the several "Charlotte's" or "Germaine's" is being referred to. At one point, she interrupted the narration of 1944 to go back to 1943, but it wasn't clear why, and it wasn't clear when she was going back to 1944. So it did feel like a bit of a confused mess.But the story is compelling. And I appreciated Moorehead's decision to spend so much time on the re-integration period: so many stories of WWII leave off at liberation, as if being free suddenly made everything all right. Overall, I would still recommend it.Beyond that, I only just finished reading it, and I suspect it will be awhile before of the thoughts it provoked have settled.
BookishDame on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book a mixed bag. While I wanted to like the story of the women and their work as resistance patriots for France, I was torn because of their motivation of Communism. I'm not a follower and don't subscribe to the articles or beliefs of communism and it sqelched the story for me, personally. In additon, I found the story somewhat bogged down in minute and repetitve detail. It did not flow to the point of making it a "readable" story. I found it more a text book type book.All in all, I can't recommend it to anyone except those who enjoy a historical perspective of the French Resistance from a communist perspective.
nyiper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very tough book to read and even begin to try and absorb. I kept expressing my feelings aloud as I read and I had to put the book down every now and then to just stop the flood of pictures the author provided. I was so appreciative of the last chapter---an end that was no end at all, just a continuing background nightmare for anyone who survived. And of course, the horror of the fact that no only did no one really want to listen but that there were sceptics....as in the trial...'how can you look so healthy one year later if what you describe is true?" About midway I almost didn't want to continue reading but I felt that I had to. Man's inhumanity to man.