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Suzanne's Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris

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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  50 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
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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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
...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
...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
...more
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
...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
...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.
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
...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
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
...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
...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
...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 !
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.
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.
Sharon
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
Quite a heavy read, both due to the subject matter and the amount of detail in this book. The book is nonfiction about Suzanne Spaak and her efforts to hide Jewish children during WWII. Highly recommend for anyone interested in the Holocaust.
Matthew Sparling
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting book about a little know and written about subject of the orphan Jews in occupied France. However, the book was disjointed at times which made keeping track of the people, places, and time difficult. Overall a good book to read.
Elizabeth
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It is very educational about the trials & tribulations of occupied France. If you have even a passing interest in WWII this this book will interest you. Suzanne was a very courageous woman and we can all learn a lesson from her.
Dee
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Splendid....a book where you can get sucked into the time period and where a female saves the day.
Courage..strength and the will to keep going.
We need more people in this world who are willing to put others before themselves.
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.
Catherine
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is carefully researched nonfiction about a real heroine of the French resistance. It’s a complicated tale with morally ambivalent characters, as happens in real life. One star off for the choppy, often disconnected writing style.
Elizabeth
Mar 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Such an amazing woman-very glad I was able to learn about her bravery and the many children she saved from death. Suzanne Spaak was a woman before her time when it came to her art collection as well. I wish I had known about her before I saw the Magritte exhibit in Paris.
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.
Wendi Dusseault
Nov 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: tbr-pile-s, dnf
moving back to TBR. couldnt get into it... maybe another time. :(
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