Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Train in Winter

It has been several years now, but I remember a time when I was just sick of Holocaust books. I felt like I had read so many that I was just done with them. And then I started reading them again and have been amazed by nearly every one. There are so many aspects to World War II and the Holocaust that I didn't know about. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay created an awareness of the French experience during World War II. This weekend I read A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorhead. This book further educated me about the goings on in France during World War II. Moorehead has done extensive research to be able to write this book, and focuses on 230 women of the Resistance - those who opposed the German take-over in their country- who were taken by train and sent to Auschwitz. Of the 230 women, only 49 survived the years in prison and concentration camps. Moorehead has met with some of these survivors, now elderly, and written their story.

While some women were actively involved in defeating Hitler, others that were arrested and sent away were condemned for something as small as a comment in a letter stating they didn't feel the Germans would win. For that one opinion, their lives were jeopardized. The women arrested were both young and old, mothers and wives. They had such an inherent desire to do what was right that they risked everything in order to live their ideals.

While I have read other accounts of life in the concentration camps, reading about the women's own experiences was heartbreaking. I admired their will to survive and the way they looked out for each other, but it is no wonder that those who survived to see the end of the war and the liberation of the camps were forever changed.

Although I know that not only the German Jews were affected by Hitler, this book is a good reminder of how other countries were affected and changed by this madman. It is also an example of how ordinary people rise to meet challenges set before them.

A Train In Winter was not a book I breezed right through. There is a lot of information that Moorehead conveys, including the names and backgrounds of many women. I had a hard time keeping everyone straight in my mind, knowing that they may be referred to again so that I could learn what had happened to them.

This is a great piece of non-fiction about World War II, a title I will be recommending to many.

1 comment:

Christina T said...

It's been years since I read any nonfiction about the Holocaust. I needed to take a break from it after a really intense semester of researching the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto in college. I have read some novels about the Holocaust like Sarah's Key and The Lost Wife. It is amazing to me that people could survive such suffering and risk so much to do what they felt was right. A Train in Winter sounds really moving and I will be adding it to my TBR list. Thanks for your review!