Title: Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris
Author: Anne Nelson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
As time goes on Yad Vashem in Yerushalayim and other Holocaust museums and investigators continue to pursue leads and information to unearth good deeds and bad among the many “actors” of the Holocaust that decimated our people. From time-to-time additional Gentile, and sometimes Jewish, saviors come to light, but most of those, such as Oskar Schindler, who saved many lives have been reported, and honored, long ago.
Now comes a book about a most unlikely heroine – Suzanne Spaak – who was born into in wealthy and leading Belgian Catholic family, who with her husband Claude – a playwright and art patron – enjoyed a privileged and luxurious lifestyle in Paris.
Spaak did the most unlikely thing by joining the Resistance in Paris, and essentially “kidnapped” hundreds of Jewish children to save them from deportation and the Nazi gas chambers. She, who was born to a life of leisure and dissipation, used her position as a woman of upper-class status to organize and fund the operation.
Her blatant activity, including collaborations with known Soviet spies, amidst her soured marriage to Claude – whose brother was a premier of Belgium – took place right under the noses of the Nazi administration of Paris, until it finally resulted in her arrest and imprisonment.
She was executed by the Nazis only shortly before the liberation of Paris, and her work was so covert, although she was both architect and ring-leader of the enterprise, that it took a number of years before her story came out for her due recognition by Yad Vashem as a “Righteous among The Nations.”
Her buried records have never been retrieved but it is strongly believed that her efforts prevailed and that those who were rescued by her survived the Holocaust. Of course there were many collaborators and participants for the Holocaust to have occurred, and even more bystanders, but those few who found their capacity to respond and act, putting themselves – and their families – in harm’s way rightfully deserve to be remembered as heroes and heroines.
This is Anne Nelson’s second book of her of wartime WWII literature, having written Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler, among her other works.