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Suzanne's Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  63 reviews
“Immersive...Suzanne’s Children vividly dramatizes the stakes of acting morally in a time of brutality.”—The Wall Street Journal

A story of courage in the face of evil. The tense drama of Suzanne Spaak who risked and gave her life to save hundreds of Jewish children from deportation from Nazi Paris to Auschwitz. This is one of the untold stories of the Holocaust.

Suzanne Spa
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Sarah
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I heard about this book on a podcast and was very interested in reading it based on the discussion. However, I was very disappointed, as the title is very misleading. The book is very well researched and gives a lot of information on the resistance in Paris during the war. However, only a very small portion of the book talks about the rescue of Jewish children in France. By my estimation, it's covered in about 2-3 chapters of the book. The rest of the book is background information and follow up ...more
Theresa Smith
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I witnessed so many deaths, and not just firing squads – humans can be so horrible.” Abbe Franz Stock, German prison chaplain at Fresnes, Resistance sympathiser.


Codename Suzette is an incredible account of resistance and salvation. It’s narrative style merged with clear facts marks this as an accessible and precise resource for those wishing to know more about the Holocaust from the perspective of those operating within France. However, the style also renders this as a particularly difficult r
...more
Amy
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the story of Belgian, Suzanne Spaak and her work with the French Resistance where she personally rescued hundreds of Jewish children from deportation to Auschwitz from Nazi occupied Paris.

Some interesting facts that I picked up:

There was a "French Gestapo" known as the "Bonny-Lafont Gang," which ran a torture shop in western Paris.

Suzanne Spaak worked hard to save as many children as she could, but her personal life, as well as the lives of her children and husband, were a mess. They we
...more
Lynn
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
A gripping, true story of life in France during the WWII German occupation.

I read this EARC courtesy of Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster pub date 10/17/17
Tony Nielsen
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found "Codename Suzette" a deeply troubling read. I have long had a fascination with the era prior to and during the Europe of the Second World War. I have read numerous novels that I thought conveyed the essence of that troubled time in history.

With "Codename Suzette" I have had to recalibrate my outlook on the rise and relentless actions that Hitler's ruthless henchmen carried out under the banner of Nazism. The difference between this book and the others, many of them excellent, is that thi
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Helen O'Toole
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The post war fiction perpetuated by Charles de Gaulle upon the liberation of Paris was that all of France had resisted bravely against the Germans. This book puts that story squarely to rest.
The puppet French government was complicit in the deportation and murder of tens of thousands of immigrant Jewish men, women and children including
many French citizens. Suzanne Spaak, as a wealthy Belgian aristocrat living in Paris,could have chosen to ignore the plight of the Jewish families yet she chose
...more
Grazyna Nawrocka
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I liked reading this book. Suzanne was a person worthy of rescuing from oblivion. I am glad Anne Nelson brought her back to the light of day. I cannot quite wrap my mind about her agreement to live in love triangle, and would love to get insight into emotional and logical side of such a choice.

The other side of the story the author told is this great, objective and thorough description of social background. I envy French this openness and courage to deal with their past. As I read I started to
...more
Theresa Smith
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“I witnessed so many deaths, and not just firing squads – humans can be so horrible.” Abbe Franz Stock, German prison chaplain at Fresnes, Resistance sympathiser.


Codename Suzette* is an incredible account of resistance and salvation. It’s narrative style merged with clear facts marks this as an accessible and precise resource for those wishing to know more about the Holocaust from the perspective of those operating within France. However, the style also renders this as a particularly difficult
...more
Floyd Larck
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another view of the The Holocaust, this time from within France. Holocaust deniers would have a difficult time denying the relocation and murder of Jews by the Nazis if they were to read this book. What was an eye-opener to me was the ways in which the French themselves participated in the relocation and subsequent deaths of Jews through the years of Vichy France.

This story of one woman's network that saved 1000 Jewish children from the Nazi gas chambers was well-written and very well-researched
...more
Rachel
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I thought that it was pretty easy read. Though, I was having a rough time pronouncing and reading some of the French that was littered throughout the story (French is not my first language). There was some parts where she would put translations in parenthesis , which I was very grateful for.

I also enjoyed how this book highlighted unsung heroes as well. Even though this book was about Suzanne Spaak, who herself was an unsung heroe , Anne Nelson highlighted other peop
...more
Andrew
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always has a fascination with the holocaust and what people did to survive. This was a different biography to what I have read in the past. This book is a great example of how one person, with an organized group of others saved the lives of those who may not have survived the war. Although very detailed in descriptions of occupied France, the book tells a harrowing yet essential story of what good people can do. It also tells of the 'ignominious' end to the heroine, Suzanne Spaak. ...more
Caren
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This meticulously researched and compelling text reveals the courage and sacrifice of Suzanne Spaak, a cultured, Belgian Catholic woman, who dedicated her time in occupied Paris during WWII to the rescue of Jewish children, thus saving them from deportation and certain gassing by the Nazis. Her connections to wealthy Parisians, to social and Christian groups, to Jewish and non-Jewish resistance organisations, allowed "Suzette" to work under the eyes of the occupied forces to "kidnap" these child ...more
Harron68
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked it up just to have something to read during these days of science fiction come to life as Covid 19. i expected a dry account, but I was totally wrong. It puts names to the ones who acted when so many were afraid to face genuine evil. Suzanne Spaak had wealth and no reason to risk her life and those of her family members in Paris. Living upstairs from the famous author Collette, Suzanne was friends with the famous and not-so-famous. Her family was connected to Belgian politicians and pow ...more
Elizabeth R
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lady-agents
Always an interesting journey along a single thread woven through WWII. This read a little bit like the author had a pile of information and had to pick a subject, and this is the one that worked out the best. That said, she clearly developed a relationship with Suzanne's birth children, and that informed the book. There were so many people weaving in and out of the picture, and of many nationalities, that it was a bit hard to keep things straight by times. There were photos included of Suzanne ...more
Sonia
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The subtitle of the book is a bit misleading. This book is really about the French Resistance and Vichy France.

Suzanne Spaak was a well to do patron of the arts, she could have safety sat out the war but whom sympathy for the Jewish exiles in the late 30s became a moral resistance during the occupation.

I picked this up because my mother's name was Suzanne and she was a young child in Rouen France during WWII. Her stories of the Nazi's marching down the street, the fellow Jewish students empty d
...more
Honey
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I was a little disappointed because that title reveals how dichotomous this book is. I thought it would be about the children as the title suggests. But instead it was more related to the subtitle and ended up being more about the whole of the resistance network in France. It was still interesting but I was hoping for more of a “what ever happened to_______” story. I suppose since most of the underground rescue of children was done covertly, records are sketchy at best and sometimes nonexistent. ...more
Candace Chesler
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This non-fiction book was difficult for me to read - the struggles of the families and the decisions that parents, government officials, supporters all had to make were hard. I often stopped to read more about the events in Europe and the United States during the same time.
Children abandoned in Paris because their parents were arrested - left to fend for themselves. Children that Suzanne Spark and others organized to help. Some children brought to safety - others sent to the death camps. And wh
...more
Patricia
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm sure the author went to great research for this book; but it was a difficult read. Hard to keep track of all the people, places, groups. I guess I would have liked to read more about the actual rescuing of these innocent children. As I read the book, about halfway, I found I sort of scanned some of the information.

In the paragraphs about the actual rescuing, I found interesting and was intrigued. But then the author left the subject matter. I did find it interesting to read all the people i
...more
Karen
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I had a difficult time following the author's writing style. As the book neared the end, it became a bit easier. It is so difficult for me to understand WHY all this happened! How can a community, a country be so oblivious to the hate brewing around them and not band together and fight as their neighbors are whisked away?

How hundreds of children could be saved by Suzanne and her group, issued new identity cards and relocated with other families until they could be reunited after the war is an a
...more
Nalani
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
After reading another non-fiction book regarding occupied Paris, I thought that this would be a better read. I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the "textbook" better than I did this book. The combination of the bland statements and oversaturated information got overwhelming at times. The amount of names mentioned throughout (with the expectation of remembering who is who) and extra tidbits of information thrown in came to be frustrating at times. I understand that there must have been a lot ...more
Ted Nelson
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Riviting Real Factual Mistery

A must read for all to know what happened in Paris in WW II. Thls book relates under-reported Vishy-French participation in the Nazi occupation AND the heroic efforts of other French to frustrate the brutal exporting of Jewish children to certain death. But is also a story of (non-Jewish) Suzanne's personal bravery and intrigue and wrenching choices risking self and family to save stangers. Such compassion, guts, and love from one person !
...more
Rose
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I only skimmed this book, but from what I did read, Suzanne Spaak used her wealth and influence to rescue many Jewish children during World War II. However her heroic efforts came at a terrible price. It is a shame that more people did not take care of the children, or stand up to the Nazis. Suzanne is a hero. The pictures are interesting to view, and provide some visuals of the people mentioned in the book.
Pamela
May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a very factual account of individuals involved in the Resistance in France during WWiI, not always easy reading since it tends to get bogged down in detail. The title is misleading; only a portion of the book covered the children. A lot of the book led up to the children, but there was little detail about the children. This did show, however, how some French and Belgians who helped Jewish children have been overlooked despite the price they paid.
Averil Evans
Aug 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My interest was piqued in this book because of the following phrase in the review...Under the eyes of the Gestapo, Suzanne and women from the Jewish and Christian resistance groups 'kidnapped' hundreds of Jewish children to save them from the gas chambers....however I found it to much more generalised than this and the subject matter much broader. I'm sorry to say I couldn't get into it and gave up quite early on in the book. ...more
The Book Grocer
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Purchase Suzanne's Children here for just $12!

This is an unforgettable story of Suzanne Spaak and her heroic efforts in saving countless numbers of Jewish children from the Nazis and certain death. A must read for all to know what happened in Paris in WWII.

Alicia - The Book Grocer
...more
Carolyn
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Thank you Goodreads for giving me this book. I was really looking forward to reading it as I totally enjoy WWII stories. This was a disappointment for me as it was too much like reading my high school history assignments. I truly admire Suzanne's (and others like her) courage and compassion but I just could not get into this story. I'm sure true history buffs would like it. ...more
Megan Langan
Apr 21, 2020 rated it liked it
The life of Suzanne was an amazing example of sacrifice and determination. While her story was incredible I was expecting the book to be written as a novel but it reads more like a research paper. If you are hoping to see the names, dates, and histories of the resistance in Paris during the occupation you will be pleased. Incredible story and worth the read if you know what to expect.
Kris Harper
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is the non-fiction account of Suzanne Spaak, who was dedicated to the rescue of Jewish children in Paris during the war years. The writing is descriptive and real, providing a visual picture and compelling story.
It was recommended to me as an excellent read; I found it too intense for my tastes. I know the Holocaust happened and it was horrific; I just can’t read about it.
Nissa
The topic is fascinating and is well written and researched. Thoroughly recommended to anyone interested in WWII occupation of France and the French resistance. A fast and easy read. Highly recommend.
Linda
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Suzanne Spaak a wealthy Belgian Catholic woman living in Paris who rescued and saved many Jewish children from the Nazis. She set up a network of safe houses where children were rescued from orphanages and raised.
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