Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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


Today's post is on A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance n Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead. It is 374 pages long includes notes and index and is it published by HarperCollins. The cover is a black and white picture of people standing in a train station. The intended reader is someone who is interested in history, world war 2 and women. There is some language, no sex, and violence in this book. The story is told from third person with first interjected. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a mid-wife, 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 lycee; the eldest, a farmer's wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each others, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of the Nazi occupiers.
Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women and imprisoned them in a fort outside of 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 send to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only Forty-nine would return to France.
A Train in Winter draws on interviews with these woman 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.

Review- This is a moving and incredibly difficult book to read. The acts done to this women, what they survived, and what they refused to do to others. I have been reading a lot of WWII books lately so this is going to be a last one for a while(or so I thought but not the case). Moorehead again does great research, she handles the topic with care but she does not shy away from the hard facts. Moorehead gives an index of the women at the back of the book with their lives in brief; I liked that because you met 230 women over the course of this book and so many had children or other family and so many die without ever seeing them again. The pictures in this book help to give faces to the names but there is one picture that disgusted me. It is a smiling happy picture of the guards at Auschwitz. They look so happy and healthy. It made my blood run cold and disgusted me. To see the people who beat, starved, and tortured thousands of people being so happy; it was and is disgusting. But this is a very inspiring story in the end because they were never broken. They were hungry, thirsty, naked, and mistreated but they were never broken.
I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.