A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
Title: A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France
Author: Caroline Moorehead
Nonfiction book about women of various ages, regions and backgrounds who worked for the French Resistance during WWII. These women were arrested (some repeatedly) before being sent to the camps in Germany. I listened to this on my iPhone (KDL also has the ebook version) and while the amount of detail about what these women suffered was extremely disturbing, I couldn’t stop the book. I wanted to know if they made it out-a minority did- and if they received justice for what they had gone through- regrettably not. Their experiences after the war made me think of how Vietnam Veterans were treated after they returned home.
-Sandy at KDL’s Alto branch
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.