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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of…
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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and… (original 2011; édition 2012)

par Caroline Moorehead (Auteur)

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8674920,283 (3.95)104
In January 1943, the Gestapo hunted down 230 women of the French Resistance and sent them to Auschwitz. 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 to transcend evil that is an essential addition to the history of World War II.… (plus d'informations)
Membre:Feathered-Friend
Titre:A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France (The Resistance Quartet, 1)
Auteurs:Caroline Moorehead (Auteur)
Info:Harper Perennial (2012), 374 pages
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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France par Caroline Moorehead (2011)

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A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France Not for the faint hearted this one.
 
Personally anything to do with the extermination camps deeply disturbs me. This one extends that to the actions of a populace i.e. the French. The roundup of the Jews was initiated by the Vichy government and manages by the French themselves. The Germans were impressed with French efficiency and brutality in this inhuman undertaking. When the Germans asked the French to deliver thousands of Jews, the French used cattle cars. The Germans had never thought of that themselves. Bah!This story centres on the thousands of women and girls who did the leg work for the French Resistance. Delivering pamphlets, posters, supplies and weapons from one resistance cell to another. Knowing fully the consequences if caught, they just carried on regardless. Using that innate efficiency that women can bring to any task they were lubrication that kept the resistance machine going.This story takes a while to get going but eventually centres on a group of women who are "disappeared". The process the Germans used to destroy the morale of other resistance members, having previously found out that executing them turned them into heroes. This consisted of simply moving them away without notifying anyone of their eventual destination or even the fact that they were gone.These women had no idea where they were headed when they boarded a series of cattle trucks one night. Their destination was Auschwitz.A harrowing story of heroism, bravery, imagination, courage and determination against all odds. By turns heartbreaking, moving and disgusting. The horrors of day to day existence in those places which to this day we can only imagine the half of it. Descriptions that will turn your stomach and your heart.The book itself is reasonably well written. The first chunk is just a series of names and dates and incidents. In reality this is building the context in which everything coalesces to the main grist. In the end I really liked it but could remember how I nearly put it down several times at the beginning. (Later: see the 1 star reviews for more on that)A nice intro into some of the history of WW2 especially the French part and their collaboration with the Nazis. Interesting to read yet again how widely the Jews were hated well before WW2 itself. Amen, may they all rest in peace.Well worth the effort. ( )
1 voter Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
I was in two minds about posting this review. It's a grim subject, and maybe readers would rather hear about escapist books. But I was in the mood to read about courage and resilience, and this book almost fell into my hands when I was re-shelving after the marathon effort to reconstruct my lost TBR file. Reading it has certainly put our current troubles into perspective.

I heard about A Train in Winter from Marg at The Intrepid Reader, and I was lucky enough to win her giveaway at the time. In her review, Marg said that she had been reading a lot about the experiences of people during WW2, and that this book was something different because it was about a group of women in the French Resistance who were sent to Auschwitz. It must have been a groundbreaking book when it was first published in 2011; Moorehead has since followed it up with what is now called The Resistance Quartet, comprising A Train in Winter (2011); Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France (2014); A Bold and Dangerous Family: The Remarkable Story of an Italian Mother, Her Two Sons, and Their Fight Against Fascism (2017); and A House in the Mountains: The Women Who Liberated Italy from Fascism (2019).

(Although the theme of the quartet is obviously the role of women in the resistance movements, I'd like to read this last one because one of our neighbours and proprietor of a local trattoria was a 15-year-old partisan in WW2 Italy, a man who transcended the brutality of his adolescence to become one of the best-loved people in our community. I'd like to know more about the role of the Italian partisans).

Caroline Moorehead (b.1944) is the daughter of the Australian author Alan Moorehead. On the TBR, I have Thornton McCamish's 2016 biography of this remarkable man, Our Man Elsewhere: In Search of Alan Moorehead. Many Australian readers of my generation will have read Alan Moorehead's Darwin and the Beagle at school, but what he is most famous for is his work as a war correspondent, described at Wikipedia as having the great virtue of widening the local story to include its global implications. This is a skill that his daughter Caroline also shows in A Train in Winter....

She sets the scene with a preface about the small number of women who made it back home after the war and how she was able to discover their story. Only a very few were still alive by the time she came to interview them in 2008. Charlotte Delbo, one of the few to document her experiences, had written a play about it in the 1960s, but she had died of cancer in 1985. One of the saddest aspects of this book comes at the end, when we learn that France did not want know about what these survivors of Auschwitz had to say. Like many Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, they had retained the will to live despite the horror, because of the need to bear witness. But France's determination to 'move on' after the war denied them a voice.

Mado, captured and deported when she was 22, was haunted by the ghosts of the women who died.
'The life we wanted to find again, when we used to say, "if I return" was to have been large, majestic, full of colour. Isn't it our fault that the life we resumed proved so tasteless, shabby, trivial, thieving, that our hopes were mutilated, our best intentions destroyed? ' Her husband, she said, was sensitive, thoughtful, and wanted her to forget, and she did not want to hurt his feelings. But all she could think was that to forget would be an act of betrayal. (p.317)

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2020/07/18/a-train-in-winter-by-caroline-moorehead/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jul 18, 2020 |
The train is heading for Birkenau in the early years of WWII. The passengers include 230 women of the French Resistance. This was an incredible audio of a horrific experience. Part One was about living in France and taking part in the Resistance. Struggling with the Vichy government as well as the resident German troops was bad enough but nothing in comparison to life in the camps as detailed in Part Two. These women watched as many of their number were beaten and tortured or died of deprivation, exposure, starvation and disease (typhus was common). And yet, they developed a bond that was incredibly durable. As Moorehead relates at the end of the narrative:

”They had learnt, they would say, the full meaning of friendship, a commitment to each other that went far deeper than individual liking or disliking; and they now felt wiser, in some indefinable way, because they had understood the depths to which human beings can sink and equally the heights to which it is possible to rise.”

A devastating portrait of an inconceivable experience. ( )
  brenzi | Dec 8, 2019 |
The Nazi occupation of France during WWII was fraught with complicity, complacency and rebellion against the occupiers. But it is historically relevant to know that it was not just the French men who stepped-up to revolt or act against the German presence. In varying ways -- defying Nazi occupiers -- French women took part in the resistance by printing and distributing anti-German fliers and news of the Allied advances, smuggling, sabotage and espionage. Many French women avoid capture. Some were killed during operations. And many other French women were either captured or arrested turned-in by French citizens and police working complicit with the Nazi's. These women were sent to work/extermination camps such as Birkenbau and Auschwitz. There, more of them died or endured cruelty. Others survived to bear witness to the horror. During that time, the Marseillaise (the French anthem) remained a consistent theme of defiance and reliance of support. Those that survived struggled with the guilt of survival and the consequences of the cruel circumstances (health and aging). This is that story. ( )
  MikeBiever | Apr 26, 2018 |
Not an easy book to read but an important one. It is the story of a group of French women resistors in WWII who suffer through years in concentration camps. Their story is told from survivor recollections , diaries, papers and recollections from family members. This book pulls no punches in telling of the horrors these women endured. ( )
  Smits | Apr 3, 2018 |
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McCaddon, WandaNarrateurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
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What surprised the Parisians, standing in little groups along the Champs-Elysees to watch the German soldiers take over their city in the early hours of 14 June 1940, was how youthful and healthy they looked.
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In January 1943, the Gestapo hunted down 230 women of the French Resistance and sent them to Auschwitz. 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 to transcend evil that is an essential addition to the history of World War II.

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