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Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance
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Jack and Rochelle: A Holocaust Story of Love and Resistance

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  560 ratings  ·  48 reviews
A gripping memoir wherein Jack and Rochelle Sutin recount their struggle to survive the Holocaust as part of a band of partisans in the forests of Poland. Told through their son Lawrence, the memoir brings to life the reality of months spent hidden in a dank underground bunker unaware of the outside world. However, this is not just an account of stark survival. It is also ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Graywolf Press (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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There is nothing as compelling as a real-life story - whether it's a love story, a war story or a personal journey through an unimaginable horror. Jack and Rochelle is all three of these stories, melded and meshed together into an unforgettable story of the terrible things that human beings can do to each other and the power of love and determination.

Told simply, in a conversational format and alternating between Jack and Rochelle, it is a story that I found completely and utterly riveting from

Jack and Rochelle Sutin tell their survival story, taking turns recounting all that they endured as Polish Jews during the Holocaust. They start with a brief account of their family and their lives before the war. Mere acquaintances before the Nazi occupation, the two met again after escaping the ghettos, hiding with other Jewish partisans in the Belorussian forest called Naliboki.


In December of last year, I read Nechama Tec’s book Defiance, about the Bielski partisans, who took
Diane Chamberlain
This book will make you open your well-stocked pantry and freezer doors and stand there in awe at all the choices you have, knowing that some people survived for months and months on nothing more than flour and water. This is an eye-opening and beautiful story about love and survival. I was familiar, of course, with life in the concentration camps, but not with the partisan groups who escaped to the wilderness and managed to survive in the freezing cold and parasite-ridden summers for years. Ama ...more
When we think about the Holocaust, we remember the atrocities perpetuated on the Jews of Europe by the Nazis, the concentration camps, the death camps, the showers of poisonous gas, the digging of their own graves, and the starvation and mass murder of an entire people. But this isn't a memoir of the same types of experiences. Instead Jack and Rochelle were Jews from different towns in eastern Poland, who had each led a fairly comfortable life before the onset of World War II. That said, the Pol ...more
This powerful book of the Jewish resistance in Poland is one of the most inspirational books of survival and will power -- plus, the story of love which endures. The descriptions of living under ground, the woods, the swamp,etc. are so vivid! I learned a lot about the psychology of people in close quarters under constant stress and what people have to do to survive.
Amy Hustead
A touching account of resistance, fate and true love (just to name a few) that made me cry often but mostly made me feel thankful for the very basic things I have (food, roof, family, etc..) I liked how the story allowed for both jack and Rochelle to each tell their own side and version. Finally i am glad I finally read it after searching for it for so long!
Lynn Morzorati
this was an amazing story - and a great Twin Cities connection that I didn't realize going in. What a love story set amidst really unfathomable conditions.
This is the remarkable, true-life account of Jack and Rochelle Sutin, two Polish Jews who fled the Nazi labor camps and escaped the holocaust by hiding out the war in the deeply wooded forests of Poland. Narrated alternately between the two of them, their story has been carefully and faithfully captured by their son Laurence as it was told to him in a series of interviews. It is filled with harrowing and gruesome details familiar to readers of holocaust literature, but unlike many other books in ...more
Tim Kubiak
an interesting read told in a conversational manner. A love story at the core based in the most unlikely of circumstances and with some of the awareness left intact which made it only more compelling. Different from many survivor stories as Jack and Rochelle chose to escape if for no other reason than to die on their terms and were part of the resistance as a means of survival.
Marianne L. Holt
Jack and Rochelle

I had a hard time getting started reading this book. It takes place during an incredibly horrific time in history and I was dreading reading the book. In the story of this young couple in Poland during the Holocaust, the one thing that helped them survive was their devotion to each other and family.
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It's hard to describe why this story isn't like other holocaust stories. It doesn't take place in a concentration camp for one thing. But mostly I think because the love Rochelle and Jack have for one another comes through each part of the story. Their side of the war being in hidden resistance is an effort you hear little about increasing the interest. Mostly I felt how they were real to me, the voice of the writing plays well off one another's narration. And it isn't bogged down with ugly char ...more
Vicki Lohnes
Holocaust Survivors

Jack and Rochelle Sutin were heroic in their trials. Their satisfaction in less stressful times depicts a joy in life that most never experience.
Oct 16, 2015 CrabbyPatty marked it as to-read
Shelves: war-time
I read this a few years ago and recall it being amazing. Beyond their activities during the war, the book shares the story of their life in Minneapolis with their children, and how their love story continues.
Susan Hinesley
Oh my goodness. I had no idea people could survive so many things. Great story of two people who never gave up. It had me on the edge of my seat many times.
Denise Jo
This is the story of Jack and Rochelle Sutin as told to their son, who writes with great love and sensitivity about his parents' struggle to survive the Holocaust. Theirs is the account of a segment of the Holocaust I had known little about before I read this book: the Jewish Resistance. As the Nazis invaded Poland, established, and then emptied the ghettos, some Jews escaped to the forests, living in dirt caves, hiding from the Nazis, scratching out their survival from one day to the next, not ...more
This is a really wonderful nonfiction story of holocaust survival, but it differs from those normally told in two crucial ways. First off, the main characters, Jack and Rochelle, are not confined to a concentration camp but instead live in the forests of Poland as part of a Jewish partisan unit made up of other Jews who managed to escape the mass murders in their cities. Secondly, this story speaks of the time after, of moving and adapting and returning to normal society with a new family. I wou ...more
Mr. Sutin has shared his parents' story of escaping Polish ghettos and fighting with the resistance during WWII. The tale switches off between Jack and Rochelle, and I could almost see them sitting side-by-side on a sofa filling in the blanks in each others' narratives. Of course, many parts of the story are horrifying and behavior all around them runs the gamut from merely distasteful to truly reprehensible. It is amazing that the couple was able to fall in love under such circumstances and sus ...more
Amy Lane
amazing love story - wow!
This turned out to be a wonderful story. It was a little slow moving at first, but then really picked up. Like most Holocaust stories, I'm amazed at what this couple went through. I hadn't read much about Jewish partisan groups, so this was a good read to learn more about what they did during the war. I loved how the story was told by both Jack and Rochelle. The narrative style really felt like I was sitting at their dining room table listening to them tell the story of how they survived. I woul ...more
This was amazing
Ashley Bostrom
I've read numerous holocaust stories over the years, not because I'm obsessed with human suffering, but because I'm intrigued by the strength of will some people seem to possess. And without a doubt, this is one of the most incredible accounts I've encountered. Jack and Rochelle's love emanates from the pages and the back-and-forth of their narratives makes the book feel like an intimate gathering. This is one I'd highly recommend.
Tyler Metz
Amazing book! Everyone should read this.
Hannah Harrimanheharriman
A story of love, resistance, survival, and perseverance. I had known about concentration camps, but I never knew about resistance efforts. Reading this made me realize how much I take life itself for granted.
A beautiful true story of a family's experience through the Holocaust. The story is like a transcript of Jack and Rochelle Sutin telling their story, but it has real beauty in it.

Part of the reason I love this so much is I met Jack and Rochelle Sutin during a premiere of a play about their lives that I was covering for the paper. So I have a signed copy of the book. But it really is a beautiful story.
This is great memoir. Sometimes they share in vivid detail. Sometimes the power comes in the sparseness of their comments. The alternating voices of Jack and Rochelle add depth to their memories, too.
This is the true story of Jews hiding from the Nazis in the forest. It is a tale of survival, resourcefulness and love. I learned a lot from this book. I had no idea how many people were hiding in the woods, the sophisticated settlements they built and what they had to go through to survive. It reminded me of the movie "Defiance" that was in the theaters last winter.
Ann Klefstad
Lawrence Sutin, Jack and Rochelle's son, wrote this account of his parent's epic. It's profoundly moving without being in the least manipulative, truthful and restrained. The story is incredible, and reminds one that any face, any ordinary face you see in the course of the day, could open and tell you such a story, even though such stories are rare.
Amazing, touching, inspirational. It's hard to fathom that someone can go through all that Jack and Rochelle did, survive, and then use the strength and intensity they had during the war to build a better life for themselves and their family afterward. Especially at this time of year, what a reminder of all that we have to be grateful for!
Jennifer Willcutt
I read this book for my reading classes. It's a holocaust story, and it's amazing what this couple went through to survive -- and thankfully it has a happy ending! The students in my reading classes love it because it's a love story, it's nonfiction, and there are some gritty details that we could all identify with.
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