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The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany

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The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris. The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parach The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris. The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape. Drawing on incredible research, this powerful, heart-stopping narrative from Gwen Strauss is a moving tribute to the power of humanity and friendship in the darkest of times.


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The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris. The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parach The Nine follows the true story of the author’s great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labor camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris. The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms through Europe, harbored parachuting agents, coordinated communications between regional sectors, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children in scattered apartments. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo. They were subjected to a series of French prisons and deported to Germany. The group formed along the way, meeting at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, forced onto a death march, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape. Drawing on incredible research, this powerful, heart-stopping narrative from Gwen Strauss is a moving tribute to the power of humanity and friendship in the darkest of times.

30 review for The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany

  1. 4 out of 5

    Swaroop

    The Nine - a band of daring resistance women. "What would it mean to live for something". Gwen Strauss’ The Nine is the true story of nine women who escape from Nazi Germany. ”So here we are: six French, two Dutch, one Spanish. Almost all of us were students or secretaries.” ❑ Hélène Podliasky ❑ Suzanne Maudet ❑ Nicole Clarence ❑ Madelon Verstijnen ❑ Guillemette Daendels ❑ Renée Lebon ❑ Josephine Bordanava ❑ Jacqueline Aubery du Boulley ❑ Yvonne Le Guillou "Angers stays in my memory as the symbol of sufferi The Nine - a band of daring resistance women. "What would it mean to live for something". Gwen Strauss’ The Nine is the true story of nine women who escape from Nazi Germany. ”So here we are: six French, two Dutch, one Spanish. Almost all of us were students or secretaries.” ❑ Hélène Podliasky ❑ Suzanne Maudet ❑ Nicole Clarence ❑ Madelon Verstijnen ❑ Guillemette Daendels ❑ Renée Lebon ❑ Josephine Bordanava ❑ Jacqueline Aubery du Boulley ❑ Yvonne Le Guillou "Angers stays in my memory as the symbol of suffering itself." It was almost as if her body was her enemy, making her suffer. This book is well written and evidently, a lot of research has gone into the writing. At times, the content reminds the reader of Elie Wiesel`s Night. The story is narrated in a captivating way, but sometimes the intensity (of a world war based true story) seems to be missing and the events appear ‘constructed’. The author does state towards the end that she is trained as a poet, is not a historian and had to use imagination to complete the nine women`s story. Also, the people of Germany, particularly at a time of an ongoing brutal war, seem unusually kind and welcoming – many offer these nine foreign women good meals and also the unrestricted use of their laundry to clean themselves and also wash their clothes. "We get shot in the back, or we make it - either way we will live or die together.” “In no time we made our decision. We would take our chances. And our luck was that we were young, and there were nine of us.” “I can no longer feel my freedom as a crystal bowl in my hand but as a matter of course.” The nine brave women, who were part of different resistance groups are caught, severely tortured and sent to the Leipzig concentration camp, where they all become friends. During a ‘death march*’ in 1945, they all decide to escape from the clutches of the Nazi SS army. [women prisoners at the Nazi death camp, theconveration.com.] [*Death marches – In 1945, as the Nazis were on the verge of defeat, they organised forced evacuations of concentration camp survivors, so that they don`t fall into the hands of the Allied forces] In the book, Gwen Strauss covers very well, the lives and suffering that women, in particular, have gone through. [In her article on theconversation.com, Judy Baumel-Schwartz (Director, the Finkler Institute of Holocaust Research) states that in much of the research of the Holocaust, gender has been overlooked. Judy mentions that while men mostly went through physical suffering, women had to also undergo severe psychological damage.] ”The trick was to fall asleep with the memory of the smell and the flavours before the hunger surged back and gripped your insides.” “It became a favourite pastime, imagination mixed with saliva.” It is heart-wrenching to read about the terrible pain and suffering these brave women were put to. They used to ‘fill’ their hungry tummies by discussing food recipes and other good things in life. The togetherness among these women is very well narrated. [Ravensbrück concentration camp, exclusively for women, wikipedia.org] The highlight of this book is the details about the way women were treated by the armed forces of all sides, including the Germans, the Soviets and the Americans. Women were, as not much has changed even today, considered as objects that are willing and easy to be raped. The soldiers of Germany, the Soviet Union and America brutally raped and grossly mistreated all the women – civilians, prisoners and camp inmates. As the author mentions, most of the soldiers went unpunished for the crimes they have committed. “Marriages were called off because it would bring shame to a family to accept a woman who had been in the camps; they were no longer considered pure.” Men were considered as prisoners of war and given medals and recognition, whereas women were treated terribly and many families disowned them. “How do we hold on to the past`s truths without letting the past hold us back from living in the present.” *** “And they sang the ‘Chant des Adieux’ to the tune of Auld Lang Syne…” “Must we part without hope, Without hope of returning, Must we part without hope, Of seeing each other again. It`s only a goodbye, my brothers, It`s only a goodbye. Yes, we will see each other again, my brothers, It`s only a goodbye. " Thank you, Manilla Press for the copy of the book!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    “What we shared  In fear, cold, hunger, hope. The ordeal, both physical and mental, can’t be repeated, even for us. It is limited to the world of never again. What we have endured together  belongs to us, to that other life, to those moments, as a transmutation from one to the other, in another life”. - Nicole Clarence, One Of The Nine. War, incarceration in concentration camps, death marches, and the ensuing pain, misery, and hardship, makes one wonder at the fortitude and perseverance required both t “What we shared  In fear, cold, hunger, hope. The ordeal, both physical and mental, can’t be repeated, even for us. It is limited to the world of never again. What we have endured together  belongs to us, to that other life, to those moments, as a transmutation from one to the other, in another life”. - Nicole Clarence, One Of The Nine. War, incarceration in concentration camps, death marches, and the ensuing pain, misery, and hardship, makes one wonder at the fortitude and perseverance required both to live, and to survive, the cruelty and oppression, but the nine courageous ladies here did survive, after a daring escape from a column of prisoners along the route of their death march, and this is their shared story, a story of resilience, friendship and survival against all the odds. We’re told about their experiences, from being members of the French and Dutch Resistance, to their incarceration in Concentration camps at the hands of the Nazis, the brutality, and torture, both physical and mental, the dehumanisation, the gnawing hunger, and the ever present threat of death. This is told alongside their long and dangerous journey home, where they relied on the kindness of strangers, a handful of food here and there, a night on a bed of straw in a barn, all the while terrified of being discovered. One old lady, looking at the pitiful sack slung over one of their shoulders, asked ‘Is that all that you were able to save my child?’ To which came the reply - ‘I also saved my life ‘ The nine women in this biography were real people, and each of the nine is given a face, with a full and illuminating historical account of their lives leading up to the point of their long quest to cross to the liberated side of Europe, and then home, and beyond, and it goes without saying, that some of the horrors these women experienced at the hands of the Nazis, are extremely difficult to read, and in fact I had to put the book down at times, but their bravery should be acknowledged, and remembered, and my admiration for them is without limit, but I don’t mind admitting that I shed many tears throughout this inspiring read. Highly recommended. *Thank you to Readers First for my hardback copy, in exchange for an honest unbiased review *

  3. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I am giving this book 3-stars because it is certainly a story that deserves to be told. I applaud the author for bringing these nine women to our attention. The Nine were part of the French Resistance movement in France (WWII) and their capture came very close to the end of the war. They happened to meet and formed a bond when they ended up in the Ravensbrück camp for women. They were in their 20’s and one has to imagine the strength and courage it took for them to survive at all never mind escap I am giving this book 3-stars because it is certainly a story that deserves to be told. I applaud the author for bringing these nine women to our attention. The Nine were part of the French Resistance movement in France (WWII) and their capture came very close to the end of the war. They happened to meet and formed a bond when they ended up in the Ravensbrück camp for women. They were in their 20’s and one has to imagine the strength and courage it took for them to survive at all never mind escape! It shows the desperation of the Nazis as it becomes clear that they have lost the war and they become even more brutal. There are some imagined conversations between the women that didn’t ring true to me, but I guess that is to be expected in this kind of book. While I was very interested in reading the story of these women this was a disappointing read. The writing style is confusing, no continuity, it skips around willy-nilly making it difficult to follow.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sage

    An incredible story. Sucked me in completely, much like Sonia Purnell’s A Woman of No Importance. All throughout the book I kept reflecting on the fact that these nine women WERE MY AGE?!!!? I’m 26, and the women ranged in age from 20-29. The determination, courage, quick wit, and sheer will to survive was just amazing. I mean, the alternative *was* death, but even so. The atrocities that the women witnessed and lived through, and the fact that all nine of them went from the Resistance, to conce An incredible story. Sucked me in completely, much like Sonia Purnell’s A Woman of No Importance. All throughout the book I kept reflecting on the fact that these nine women WERE MY AGE?!!!? I’m 26, and the women ranged in age from 20-29. The determination, courage, quick wit, and sheer will to survive was just amazing. I mean, the alternative *was* death, but even so. The atrocities that the women witnessed and lived through, and the fact that all nine of them went from the Resistance, to concentration camps and death marches, to escaping and crossing the front to freedom...just wow. I particularly liked the chapter at the end about their lives after the war, and the ingrained trauma that the next generation had to deal with — I never thought about anything like that but it makes sense. I think I expected more from this book writing-style wise, I can’t really put my finger on it, but parts of it felt a little disjointed. 3.5 overall, but a very solid addition to the numerous books about badass women in WWII.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    This book comes out May 4th and it’s not one to miss! This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year. I was immediately captivated by the story of these brave nine women. What these women have in common is that they were all in their 20’s, working for the resistance. They were not all French, but they shared a deep conviction to fight in the French Resistance against the Nazi regime. Their differences in personality were what enabled them to persevere in a time that would have bee This book comes out May 4th and it’s not one to miss! This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year. I was immediately captivated by the story of these brave nine women. What these women have in common is that they were all in their 20’s, working for the resistance. They were not all French, but they shared a deep conviction to fight in the French Resistance against the Nazi regime. Their differences in personality were what enabled them to persevere in a time that would have been easy to give into fear. They kept each other focused throughout their ordeal. I was constantly amazed at their courage and resilience. I believe this book covered nearly every facet of World War II’s horrifying experiences, but did so in the most gentle way possible. Although the book didn’t go into details of the women’s resistance work, it did cover what happened at the end of the war and that seems to be an area often neglected. Once liberated, many people were still not safe and continued to suffer hardships. I found this book to be a powerful testament to what exists inside a person when they encounter the most difficult times of life and find the courage and the will to overcome their situation. I highly recommend this book to readers who love history, non-fiction and courageous women. Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an advance copy. I’m happy to give my honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Spencer

    Tales such as this one never fail to haunt and surprise me. I find myself learning new things every time. The Nine tells the true story of the escape of 9 young women from a concentration camp in WWII. It tells the stories of how they all ended up at the camp, and their daring escape to freedom. True stories from this time always move me in ways other tales cannot. The horror that people had to experience and the bravery of some, will never fail to make my heart ache. I really enjoyed meeting the Tales such as this one never fail to haunt and surprise me. I find myself learning new things every time. The Nine tells the true story of the escape of 9 young women from a concentration camp in WWII. It tells the stories of how they all ended up at the camp, and their daring escape to freedom. True stories from this time always move me in ways other tales cannot. The horror that people had to experience and the bravery of some, will never fail to make my heart ache. I really enjoyed meeting the 9 women, and came to love each of them in their own ways. I feel grateful to have been able to follow their journey and daring escape. My favourite part of this book was the way it told the story of the lives of the women in the days and years after the war ended. It added an extra dimension to the tale which I haven’t read in other books. However, at times I found the story a little difficult to follow, mainly because it often jumped around quite a lot. But I loved the addition of the photographs, it helped make the story come to life. I want to thank Readers First, the publishers and author for allowing me to read this book and give my personal thoughts. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone that enjoys books based on true historical events (especially those of WWII), but be warned, this is an emotional and difficult read at times!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.--Martin Luther King Nine women break away from a death march and strike off across Germany to reach the front and the American line. This is their story. Six were French, two were Dutch, and one was from Spain. The author is a great-niece to Hélène, one of the French women. All were working for some wing of the Resistance in Paris when arrested and sent to Ravensbruck. Together they were Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.--Martin Luther King Nine women break away from a death march and strike off across Germany to reach the front and the American line. This is their story. Six were French, two were Dutch, and one was from Spain. The author is a great-niece to Hélène, one of the French women. All were working for some wing of the Resistance in Paris when arrested and sent to Ravensbruck. Together they were sent to a Leipzig munitions factory and when that facility was evacuated, the women made their move. This book tells of the struggles they had throughout their lives, especially on that journey. Strauss includes a brief synopsis of each woman at the beginning and a map as well as a number of photos. She spent five years putting the book together, often filling in gaps about one of the women by consulting with a new lead in another woman's family. There are many brutal, uncomfortable details and the temptation is to look away, but the trauma remains. Highlighting the contributions of these women lifts us all up, but especially those who have been overlooked. Thank you to St. Martins Press for sending me a paperback ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Nine by Gwen Strauss is an excellent nonfiction that tells the suspenseful and true-life stories of a group on nine women whom were captured, imprisoned, and escaped from the clutches of the Nazis during WWII. This book was so engrossing, fascinating, harrowing, and captivating that I forgot at times that it was nonfiction. These women all participated in the Resistance against the German occupation, risked their very existence, and were imprisoned. Instead of giving up, they continued to fi The Nine by Gwen Strauss is an excellent nonfiction that tells the suspenseful and true-life stories of a group on nine women whom were captured, imprisoned, and escaped from the clutches of the Nazis during WWII. This book was so engrossing, fascinating, harrowing, and captivating that I forgot at times that it was nonfiction. These women all participated in the Resistance against the German occupation, risked their very existence, and were imprisoned. Instead of giving up, they continued to fight, and this is their story of escape, survival, and resilience. I am stunned and forever changed by their heroic and unforgettable stories. I am so grateful that the author (whose own aunt was one of the women) was able to bring light to these events and be able to tell the world of these strong women. Reading their stories of escape and survival is something that everyone needs to read. It is something that I will never forget. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lori Sinsel Harris

    I finished reading "The Nine" before work this morning and all I can say is "what a story!!" I have read numerous books about the Holocaust, both fiction and non-fiction, some good or great, others not so great, but out of each and everyone of them there is one thing that stands out above all else and that is the resilience and courage of these men and women. In every book, novel, article, biography and memoir I have read those qualities rise above all. They shine brightly through the women's st I finished reading "The Nine" before work this morning and all I can say is "what a story!!" I have read numerous books about the Holocaust, both fiction and non-fiction, some good or great, others not so great, but out of each and everyone of them there is one thing that stands out above all else and that is the resilience and courage of these men and women. In every book, novel, article, biography and memoir I have read those qualities rise above all. They shine brightly through the women's stories in "The Nine". Giwen Strauss, the great-niece of Helene Podliasky tells the story of these nine courageous Resistance fighters with dignity and grace. She brings their trials to life and shares their suffering in such a way as we, the readers, feel it also. Not dwelling on, nor glossing over the horrors of the camps and tortures suffered by these women, she give4s us a clear portrait of what their time there encompassed. I really liked this book, I won't say I "enjoyed" reading it, because how does one enjoy reading about dying children and tortured women? But I did learn from these women and their story as I have learned from all the books I have read about WWII. Strauss does a great job bringing the facts to life so that we feel, right along with Helene, Zinka and all the other women. I liked that the facts weren't just listed in some long, dry, litany, but divulged in such a manner as to evoke emotion in the reader. To me this defines the difference of being a good writer, to being a great writer. 5 stars for sure, I found nothing worth detracting from a 5 star rating. I would recommend to readers that like to learn the hard truths about those times so maybe not the right kind of book for the more casual light reader, but certainly a fit for serious students of the Holocaust. Thank you to the publisher's at St. Martin's Publishing Group for the free advanced reader copy of this book. I am posting my review on Goodreads, NetGalley and Bookish First, and my website mycatreads.com, upon publication I will post on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Instagram and Twitter.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    This book is about nine female resistance fighters who, led by one courageous leader, escape a German labor camp during World War II and journey on foot back to Paris. Not only are they running for their lives, but they smuggle Jews and save children along the way. These women are incredibly young, yet they are held together by their determination and their courage. I was shocked with every page, stunned by the way Strauss was able to weave the stories together. Her writing is beautiful, and th This book is about nine female resistance fighters who, led by one courageous leader, escape a German labor camp during World War II and journey on foot back to Paris. Not only are they running for their lives, but they smuggle Jews and save children along the way. These women are incredibly young, yet they are held together by their determination and their courage. I was shocked with every page, stunned by the way Strauss was able to weave the stories together. Her writing is beautiful, and the story of these women is even more beautiful. I couldn't put this book down until I finished, and now that I have, I want more. I want to see what happened to them after their story comes to a close. Strauss was delicate yet unfiltered in her portrayal of the brutality of what happened during World War II, which I admired and appreciated. This book isn't for everyone, but I don't think these topics of abuse and violence should be sugarcoated and glazed over. This was an amazing story!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a true story of nine brave women who were imprisoned in Germany for their work in the French Resistance. It is difficult to give a rating to a book like this. The story of these strong women and their ability to face unthinkable horrors deserves an infinite number of stars. Unfortunately, the actual writing does not get the same high praise. I liked the way that the book focused on each one of the Nine, giving details of their life before the war, their work with the resistance, imprison This is a true story of nine brave women who were imprisoned in Germany for their work in the French Resistance. It is difficult to give a rating to a book like this. The story of these strong women and their ability to face unthinkable horrors deserves an infinite number of stars. Unfortunately, the actual writing does not get the same high praise. I liked the way that the book focused on each one of the Nine, giving details of their life before the war, their work with the resistance, imprisonment, and flight to freedom. Each woman’s unique personality was well highlighted and it was interesting to read a book that focused on political prisoners during WWII. Though each woman’s individual experiences are important, it is the bond of friendship that makes this a powerful story. The overall tone of the book was a bit confusing. Certain parts felt like a novel, other parts a historical textbook, and still other parts seemed semi-autobiographical. The author’s great aunt was one of the Nine, so it made sense that she would want to bring in a personal aspect to the story. I just felt like her inconsistent use of first person was jarring and disrupted the flow of the book. It also felt like the author would go off on tangents, citing historical facts that were interesting but took the reader farther away from the central story. These sections were probably meant to build context, but after a while they just started to feel excessive. I often found myself just wishing to get back to the women’s story. Overall it was an interesting book. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart or the overly sensitive reader. I wasn’t able to read it right before going to sleep due to its graphic nature. What these women and thousands of others faced is beyond horrible, but that is also why we need these stories to be told. Lest we forget. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and BookishFirst for this advanced copy!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

    Gwen Strauss is the niece of Helene Podiasky, one of this group of nine women. Strauss is a poet but became a detective in trying to discover and honor the lives of these extraordinary resistance women who were known by aliases and numbers. Six were French, two Dutch and one Spanish, who were all sent to Ravensbruck as political prisoners. In July 1944, they were sent to an armament factory near Leipzig. The support these women gave each other and others kept them alive during a horrific time. T Gwen Strauss is the niece of Helene Podiasky, one of this group of nine women. Strauss is a poet but became a detective in trying to discover and honor the lives of these extraordinary resistance women who were known by aliases and numbers. Six were French, two Dutch and one Spanish, who were all sent to Ravensbruck as political prisoners. In July 1944, they were sent to an armament factory near Leipzig. The support these women gave each other and others kept them alive during a horrific time. That they escaped toward the end of the war and survived to in part tell their story is amazing. All the women suffered from physical and mental harm for the rest of their lives. The French government and people they came back to were not as supportive as they should have been. They and other women were basically encouraged to never speak or their ordeal. Although Strauss feels she never knew all of her aunts tribulations or those of the other women, she gives the reader a chance to raise a toast to friendship and bravery. I received a digital copy of this this book from the publisher through NetGalley for a honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Demelda Penkitty

    As the Second World War raged across Europe, and the Nazi regime tightened its reign of horror and oppression, nine women, some still in their teens, joined the French and Dutch Resistance. Caught out in heroic acts against the brutal occupiers, they were each tortured and sent east into Greater Germany to a concentration camp, where they formed a powerful friendship. In 1945, as the war turned against Hitler, they were forced on a Death March, facing starvation and almost certain death. Determi As the Second World War raged across Europe, and the Nazi regime tightened its reign of horror and oppression, nine women, some still in their teens, joined the French and Dutch Resistance. Caught out in heroic acts against the brutal occupiers, they were each tortured and sent east into Greater Germany to a concentration camp, where they formed a powerful friendship. In 1945, as the war turned against Hitler, they were forced on a Death March, facing starvation and almost certain death. Determined to survive, they made a bid for freedom, and so began one of the most breathtaking tales of escape and resilience of the Second World War. The author is the great-niece of one of the nine, and she interweaves their gripping flight across war-torn Europe with her own detective work, uncovering the heart-stopping escape and survival of these heroes who fought fearlessly against Nazi Germany and lived to tell the tale. The nine women in this biography were real people, and each of the nine is given a face, with a full and illuminating historical account of their lives leading up to the point of their long quest to cross to the liberated side of Europe, and then home, and beyond, and it goes without saying, that some of the horrors these women experienced at the hands of the Nazis, are extremely difficult to read, and also to comprehend that such atrocities went on, but they did and these women must never be forgotten, this is such a great tribute to them. "What we shared In fear, cold, hunger, hope. The ordeal, both physical and mental, can’t be repeated, even for us. It is limited to the world of never again. What we have endured together belongs to us, to that other life, to those moments, as a transmutation from one to the other, in another life”. - Nicole Clarence, One Of The Nine.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Toni Osborne

    This brisk biography is a compelling and beautifully written story of nine women who survived the worst of Nazi Germany. Caught at various points in 1944 they met at Ravensbrück concentration camp. This is the true story of Helene, Nicole, Jacky, Zaza, Lon, Guigui, Zinka, Mena and Josée and the things these French, Dutch and Spanish women faced. I was drawn right from the opening page by this deeply researched chronicle that highlights the courage of women who worked for the French Resistance unt This brisk biography is a compelling and beautifully written story of nine women who survived the worst of Nazi Germany. Caught at various points in 1944 they met at Ravensbrück concentration camp. This is the true story of Helene, Nicole, Jacky, Zaza, Lon, Guigui, Zinka, Mena and Josée and the things these French, Dutch and Spanish women faced. I was drawn right from the opening page by this deeply researched chronicle that highlights the courage of women who worked for the French Resistance until the moment they were caught. Under the Nazi strong arms, they suffered unspeakable brutality, torture and lived in inhumane condition. Ms. Straus alternated tales of their early lives, Resistance activities, and arrest with their horrific experiences in concentration camps and factories, escape, and finally the walk across Germany to American lines. The narrative is infused with harrowing details about Ravensbrück , how the relationships between these nine women developed and the complications they faced once they returned to their home town. By the end it is revealed that most lived a long and fruitful life well into the recent century. This account is a fantastic piece of narrative that captures the sense of what life was when the German leadership was breaking down and facing defeat: the cruelest parts of WW11 was then unleashed on all prisoners. I never get tired reading these tragic accounts of how people lived daily with atrocities and managed to come through. Obviously this is a very heavy subject matter and could be disturbing for some but more importantly is to never forget. Well-said My thanks to St-Martin Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chattynatty Van Waning

    I really enjoyed this book. I have always loved reading about WWII and people’s perseverance during that war. This book is a great work trying 9 women’s stories about their work as resistance fighters, their experience being arrested, imprisoned at concentration camps, and their great escape. The author did an amazing job of tying all 9 women’s separate stories into one book. I can only imagine the research, travel and hard work the author out into the writing of this book. I will say this book, I really enjoyed this book. I have always loved reading about WWII and people’s perseverance during that war. This book is a great work trying 9 women’s stories about their work as resistance fighters, their experience being arrested, imprisoned at concentration camps, and their great escape. The author did an amazing job of tying all 9 women’s separate stories into one book. I can only imagine the research, travel and hard work the author out into the writing of this book. I will say this book,I feel, gives one of the most honest portrayals of what people went through if imprisoned by the Nazis. The author didn’t hold back and the picture that was painted via her words was eye opening in a way I had not experienced from other WWII recounts. I also appreciated her honesty on how the work of women as resistance fighters and those women who clearly made a difference of the lives of many during WWII has been very silent. Women were not given due credit for their impact on war efforts. I also was horrified to hear of the rapes that occurred via Russian hands after they liberated concentration camps. There was also information stating American military also treated women poorly in specifically Paris when liberation occurred. I loved getting to know these women and their stories. I also appreciated how the author sheds light on the struggle many had in dealing with their trauma endured during the war. Many of these women stayed silent. Through their silence they actually created inter generational trauma of war. She briefly introduces transmission studies that became prevalent in 1970s when the second generation of Holocaust survivors began to be affected in their own lives due to the effects of their parents trauma.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    During World War II, nine women—Hélène, Zaza, Nicole, Lon, Guigui, Zinka, Josée, Jacky, and Mena—escaped from a German labor camp in search of the Allies at the front. Written by Hélène's grand-niece, this book follows the women's harrowing journey while also providing information about each of them. "Nine who didn't want to die, and who fought together to return to LIFE." While this nonfiction account didn't read as smoothly as some other nonfiction books I've read (information about random peop During World War II, nine women—Hélène, Zaza, Nicole, Lon, Guigui, Zinka, Josée, Jacky, and Mena—escaped from a German labor camp in search of the Allies at the front. Written by Hélène's grand-niece, this book follows the women's harrowing journey while also providing information about each of them. "Nine who didn't want to die, and who fought together to return to LIFE." While this nonfiction account didn't read as smoothly as some other nonfiction books I've read (information about random people other than the nine women was included throughout and confused me a bit as to why it was necessary), I still enjoyed reading about these brave, courageous, and strong women. They formed an intense camaraderie and bond, and I was amazed that they all survived their desperate trek across Germany to find the American soldiers at the front. If you're already familiar with WWII history, then this will make for another fascinating and inspiring account. If you're new to the subject, however, then you might be overwhelmed while trying to digest the intense depth and breadth of dark and difficult information. Location: Germany I received an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

  17. 5 out of 5

    William

    Jan 15/21: Can't wait to read this book, which I will receive as a Giveaway! - - - - - - - - - Feb 26/21: Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy of The Nine by Gwen Strauss. My first action after receiving the book: I sent a snap of it's cover to a friend in USA, who commented, "Looks interesting. But depressing." Thus far, though having read only "A Note To Readers" and "Chapter One: Helene," I know that The Nine is just the opposite of depressing. In tell Jan 15/21: Can't wait to read this book, which I will receive as a Giveaway! - - - - - - - - - Feb 26/21: Many thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy of The Nine by Gwen Strauss. My first action after receiving the book: I sent a snap of it's cover to a friend in USA, who commented, "Looks interesting. But depressing." Thus far, though having read only "A Note To Readers" and "Chapter One: Helene," I know that The Nine is just the opposite of depressing. In telling this true story of her great aunt and eight other female resistance fighters, author Strauss has provided an answer to a question she herself asks in the note to her readers: "How do we hold on to the past's truths without letting the past hold us back from living in the present?" One way we do that is by reading books like The Nine. Here are a few brief comments about Chapter One: Helene, one of the nine women of the story: (1) Helene was Strauss's great aunt. She joined the resistance early in the spring of 1943 and was imprisoned late in the winter of 1944, eleven months later. Strauss notes: "The average time a person lasted in the Resistance before being caught was three to six months." (2) Strauss describes an incident in Helene's work for the Resistance that brought to mind a very similar event with which the film Plenty begins. This film is about an English woman who worked in the French resistance. I greatly enjoyed viewing that film; the similarity convinced me that I would as well enjoy reading this book. (3) After her capture, Helene underwent various tortures, one of which involved having her head held under water by her interrogators nearly to the point of her drowning. Strauss calls this torture "waterboarding." As described, it was not like the water torture used by US interrogators on various of their Middle East captives. Perhaps Strauss chose the term because she felt that devilish Nazi methods are still with us in the "enhanced interrogation techniques" used by US "interrogators" as part of their work with the "coalition of the willing." I am much looking forward to reading the rest of this true, and truly stranger than fiction, story. - - - - - - - - - Feb 27/21: Chapter Two: Zaza. It was clear now that the women would not be home for Christmas. . . . At this point, many gave up and turned away from the others. This was deadly. The first sign was usually that a woman no longer washed herself or her clothes. The prisoners had formed a team of "social workers" who would intervene when this happened. They would remind the woman of her children or the other family members waiting for her back home. They said they understood she was too tired to wash her clothes, so they would do it for her. Sometimes a woman had grown mute and refused any help, and then the "social workers" would actually undress her by force and wash her clothes and bathe her. . . . This act of solidarity and care almost always brought the woman back to herself. Striking: that these women, in such desperate circumstances, summoned the will to care for one another in such an extraordinarily personal manner; that we, leading such relatively lighthearted lives, don't manage to do as well. - - - - - - - - - Feb 28/21: Chapter Three: Nicole. The building on the rue de la Pompe became a secret torture and murder centre for the Gestapo, which was operating with extralegal powers. Such "black sites" are an expression of desperation and signal the disintegration of a society whenever they occur in history. At the rue de la Pompe location, there were no trials, just summary executions; there were no legal processes of arrest, just threats and beatings. Surely, Strauss wants us to read this as one of her past's truths coming forward, commenting on our present. - - - - - - - - - March 2/21: Chapter Four: Lon and Guigui. Camaraderie may account for why women on average survived longer in the camps than men did. . . . The nine had to count on each other to survive, and that bond was something they would find hard to replicate later in normal life. Like soldiers who feel a bond of brotherhood after being in battle together, the intensity of their friendships was an essential part of their experience. Strauss's comment here underscores my early feeling (noted above) about a closeness (a connection perhaps in tone) to the fictional account of some post-war lives in the film Plenty, based on David Hare's play of the same name, "the inspiration [for which] came from the fact that 75 per cent of the women engaged in wartime SOE operations divorced in the immediate post-war years." (Wikipedia) - - - - - - - - - March 3/21: Chapter Five: Zinka. Odette had made a makeshift notebook with scraps of discarded paper.... In it she recorded who was with her in the camp, who was transferred, who had been killed.... There is a list of her friends who died.., a list that notes the arrival of a group.... All this clandestine record-keeping.... Looking around the reading room at the archives, I felt the presence of others before me, people like Odette who risked their lives to record and save what they could.., [who] understood the importance of bearing witness.., [who] gave me permission to write this book. Indeed, people who understood that one can "hold on to the past's truths without letting the past hold them back from living in the present." - - - - - - - - - March 5/21: Chapter Six: Josee. The table was nicely set and there was a generous amount of food, but their [host family's] hostility was palpable. This would not be like the meal they had shared with Annelise and her father. Not all meals could be like that, Zaza reasoned later; if they were, then there never would have been a war in the first place. Strauss remarks that the women were guests in name only. Their hosts ate with them only because "the front was near." - - - - - - - - - March 7/21: Chapter Seven: Jacky. Nicole found relief by describing in detail all the steps of a recipe, ingredient by ingredient. She found that talking about food helped. Initially, most of her recipes were cakes, with lots of sugar, butter, and eggs. She described how to make a bavarois with strawberries.... It was a dessert she had prepared many times with the family cook.... "Step one," she said, and everyone grew quiet.... "I could taste it," Jacky said, her eyes bright with fever. "The strawberries and the cream." Strauss notes what seems to her counterintuitive, namely, that "the recitation of recipes ... appears to be a nearly universal reaction among the starving. - - - - - - - - - March 8/21: Chapter Eight: Mena. Helene pointed to the woods.... "That's the Mulde River. That's what we shall cross tomorrow...." There were now new worries to talk over. Perhaps being so close to their goal was frightening. The conversation turned to the crossing of the Mulde River. How would it be done? The bridges had been bombed, so they thought it was likely they would cross by boat.... Lon put it calmly. "It's been days since anyone has crossed the Mulde because it is dangerous, and we will be sitting ducks...." Helene began talking about strategy.... "No trousers. We wear our prison dresses, even in tatters. Those who have hair let it down so it can be seen from a distance. She said what they all surely knew: "We mustn't look like soldiers." - - - - - - - - - March 15/21: Chapter Eleven: Finding the Way Home. In this penultimate chapter, Strauss describes the many difficulties, consequences both physical and psychological of their imprisonment and their escape, facing the survivors as they struggled to feel at home. Returning to this world, feeling misunderstood, the survivors couldn't fit in. Paris had been liberated in August, almost a year earlier. The general population had moved on. It did no good to talk about the camps. No one wanted to hear it. It might be uncomfortable for those who had stayed out of the Resistance and perhaps even out of necessity had collaborated with the enemy. It was a blurry line, and the survivors were an unwelcome reminder of the past. Especially, notes Strauss, the relatively few Jewish survivors. In response, support groups were created by survivors, initially and especially by women, who remembered how important their friendships had been in the camps. Strauss mentions the ADIR, whose newsletter Voix et Visages "played a key role in bearing witness when in the late 1980s Holocaust deniers such as Robert Faurisson published articles with statements such as 'they only gassed lice.'" I began these comments with a mention of the film Plenty; I end them with mention of the film Denial, an adaptation of Deborah Lipstadt's 2005 book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. The film dramatises the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar, was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. Lipstadt has been quoted as saying "the way of fighting Holocaust deniers is with history and with truth." Strauss has done that with her book Nine Women.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia-Marah

    The Nine by Gwen Strauss tells the historical account of nine female political prisoners who escape their Nazi guards while on a death march during the last days of WWII. These nine women were imprisoned for participating in the French Resistance. This book chronicles: • First their treatment in Ravensbrück, a concentration camp. • Later their attempts to sabotage the munitions they were making at a factory in Leipzig while being held in a work camp. • Finally, their harrowing journey across The Nine by Gwen Strauss tells the historical account of nine female political prisoners who escape their Nazi guards while on a death march during the last days of WWII. These nine women were imprisoned for participating in the French Resistance. This book chronicles: • First their treatment in Ravensbrück, a concentration camp. • Later their attempts to sabotage the munitions they were making at a factory in Leipzig while being held in a work camp. • Finally, their harrowing journey across Germany searching for the front, allied troops, and a way home. This group of women included six French women, two Dutch women and one Spanish woman. Along the journey the author, Gwen Strauss, who is Hélène’s great niece, tells us about all nine women’s lives before the war and during the war, including their various contributions to the Resistance. Some of them hid Jewish children within the foster care system. Some were curriers. One leads people hiking across the Pyrenees, to freedom in Spain. This historical account blew my mind. I received this galley from St. Martin’s Press after winning a Goodreads giveaway. I’ve recently read several novels set in France during WWII concerning women involved in the French Resistance. I love it when the books I’m reading and/or the subject I’m studying connects and each separate book bolsters my understanding of the subject as a whole. That is what happened while reading these books during Women’s History Month. While reading The Nine, my understanding of how little information Europeans had about the genocide coalesced in my mind. The misinformation Nazis spread about the people who were being deported to concentration camps was designed to distract the public from what was really happening. Locals were led to believe the people being arrested and deported were criminals. Often the women who were arrested as political prisoners for participating in the resistance were labeled as prostitutes, misleading people to think they were immoral degenerates, a negative element within their communities that they should support being imprisoned. In reality, people were being imprisoned and exterminated, for being resistance fighters, Jewish, Romani, homosexual, or a communist… The inhumane treatment these people experienced in the camps was beyond the average person’s imagination. When allied soldiers liberated the camps, what they found shook them to the core. There was even a misunderstanding amongst POWs fighting for allied forces, who were held by the Nazis. The POWs did not know what was going on in the concentration and work camps. While reading the story of these nine women, I kept thinking about how much WWII changed- everything. It changed Europe most drastically, where you could see the devastation of towns bombed flat, and millions of people dead. But it also changed the world’s understanding of the horrors humans are capable of. A new word, GENOCIDE, was invented to describe what the Nazis did in their concentration and death camps. Not only were entire families wiped off the earth, but the survivors carried with them guilt and trauma that have carried on through generations. This book was obviously very heavy subject matter, and I couldn’t read much of it every day because of how disturbing it was. Some days I read an entire chapter, and other days I had to stop after a few pages, because I couldn’t go on. One subject this book focuses on, besides these women’s imprisonment and subsequent escape, was the long-term effects of the traumas they experienced. Not only were they traumatized when they were taken to the camps, but they were re-traumatized when they were moved to refugee camps immediately after being liberated. These nine women, while briefly living in a Red Cross refugee camp before being sent back to Paris, felt like they were imprisoned once again. They were traumatized again when they were sent back to France on trains, much like the ones that had deported them. When you think about war, we often think about the devastating physical and psychological experiences of soldiers, but while reading this book I kept thinking about the trauma women experience while living in war zones. Everywhere soldiers go, not only during WWII but also in places like Bosnia, Vietnam, or the trail of tears, women are abused. They are raped and subjugated first by the invaders, and later, those lucky enough to survive, are often raped again by their liberators. In this book I learned things I hadn’t learned about WWII when I was in school. I learned about how many babies were born in the camps because the Nazi guards raped the women after being deported. I can understand why my teachers didn’t share this information with high school students, but I think that may have been a mistake. When you shelter people from ugly realities, you don’t protect them, but make them less prepared to deal with the ugly realities of life. There is always a tension between remembering atrocities and the desire to put the past behind us and collectively move on. But I think by not looking at our past with our eyes wide open, we risk forgetting, and ultimately repeating these atrocities. I read some time ago that the Holocaust is hardly taught in schools anymore. Young people only have a vague awareness of what happened, and it was less than 100 years ago. There are still people alive who were prisoners in death camps, and we are collectively already trying to sweep it under the metaphorical rug. I was in high school when “Schindler’s List” came out in theaters. I remember seeing it during a field trip where my class took over the entire cinema. I sat in the darkness watching the little girl in her red coat, cried my eyes out, and vowed to never watch the movie again, despite thinking it was an important and well done film. I had a similar reaction when I saw “Hotel Rwanda” years later, and also while watching “The Killing Fields.” I remember people questioning the morality of telling these stories; of financially profiting off of the agony of millions. And I wondered, too, at the time, if it was okay to make these kinds of movies, and write these kinds of books? Are we glorifying violence and war by telling these war stories? More than 25 years later, I have finally reached my conclusion on the subject. Considering how little children and teenagers are learning about our shared history, I think it is more important than ever to tell these stories. If kids will not learn about these things in school, we should use books, television and film to tell these stories. I think it is especially important to tell these stories because history has been traditionally told by the male victors. I want to hear the stories of women and disenfranchised groups who have been left out of the history books, pushed to the margins, and largely forgotten. But I think it is important for the writers and filmmakers who tell these stories to do so with compassion, respect and authenticity. I think Gwen Strauss accomplished this with her book, The Nine. The Harrowing story of these nine women is a window into the real-life experiences of countless women who survived the camps during WWII.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aly Warren

    Where do I start.... The courage of these nine women, (Helena, Zaza, Nicole, Madelon, Guigui, Zinka, Josee, Jacky and Mena) is utterly unbelievable. Just to imagine what they went through absolutely blows me away, so unbelievably cruel. I loved the bond between them all! The encouragement they they constantly gave each other was phenomenal. The bravery is indescribable. It was written so well, every single little detail broke my heart more and more. Don't get me wrong it made me so angry that they h Where do I start.... The courage of these nine women, (Helena, Zaza, Nicole, Madelon, Guigui, Zinka, Josee, Jacky and Mena) is utterly unbelievable. Just to imagine what they went through absolutely blows me away, so unbelievably cruel. I loved the bond between them all! The encouragement they they constantly gave each other was phenomenal. The bravery is indescribable. It was written so well, every single little detail broke my heart more and more. Don't get me wrong it made me so angry that they had to endure all of this. A highly recommend book. A subject that has always been a interest of mine. Blurb As the Second World War raged across Europe, and the Nazi regime tightened its reign of horror and oppression, nine women, some still in their teens, joined the French and Dutch Resistance. Caught out in heroic acts against the brutal occupiers, they were each tortured and sent east into Greater Germany to a concentration camp, where they formed a powerful friendship. In 1945, as the war turned against Hitler, they were forced on a Death March, facing starvation and almost certain death. Determined to survive, they made a bid for freedom, and so began one of the most breathtaking tales of escape and resilience of the Second World War. The author is the great-niece of one of the nine, and she interweaves their gripping flight across war-torn Europe with her own detective work, uncovering the heart-stopping escape and survival of these heroes who fought fearlessly against Nazi Germany and lived to tell the tale.

  20. 4 out of 5

    AC

    How do people withstand the most horrific abuses performed by a nation led by a madman? There are many books about soldiers surviving what were basically death camps when they were taken prisoner, about well planned and executed escapes, about spies hanging on, in hiding, while an entire militarized police force look for them. The Nine has all of that, and more. It's the story of nine women, resistance fighters in WWII, captured and interrogated by French police before being sent off to Germany fo How do people withstand the most horrific abuses performed by a nation led by a madman? There are many books about soldiers surviving what were basically death camps when they were taken prisoner, about well planned and executed escapes, about spies hanging on, in hiding, while an entire militarized police force look for them. The Nine has all of that, and more. It's the story of nine women, resistance fighters in WWII, captured and interrogated by French police before being sent off to Germany for interrogation by the Gestapo and ultimately imprisoned at a work camp. The primary focus is on the author's great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who ultimately became the de facto leader of the group as they met one another in their journey from freedom to prison and back to freedom again. Where this book shines comes after all of that - after the beatings, the torture, the forced work, and all manner of atrocities. As Germany was facing defeat, some of the camps, including the one housing The Nine, were sent on forced marches, to move prisoners from outlying areas about to be overrun, to prisons closer to what was left in German hands. During their march, they took a chance and fled the march, running into the forest, heading for France. This journey, free of guards and the wire of prisons, wasn't any easier than that. Along the way, they found both people willing to help them, and people who had no interest in doing so, preferring to turn them in. They also found those who wanted to use them for their own ends - soldiers, for instance, who thought the Allies would look more favorably on them if they were found assisting a group of former prisoners. The author is a poet, and it shows. It's a fantastic piece of narrative nonfiction, although I would say that if you're just dipping your toes into the water of the cruelest parts of WWII, or if you're just learning about it, you might want to start with a broader history first, to understand the whole of the war, then narrow to the final days of the European theater before reading this. Doing so will better inform the reader about that particular point in the war, and how the engineered system developed by the German leadership was breaking down. Much like Night (Elie Wiesel, another must-read), The Nine captures the sense of how it was to live with daily atrocities, and how people came through them. Highly recommended - a five star read. Thanks to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for the review copy Pub date: May 4, 2021

  21. 4 out of 5

    Booknblues

    It seems that I am finding more and more historical fiction books detailing women who worked in the French resistance. One might wonder if this was common and by reading The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany, I can tell you that it was far more common than you might have thought. Gwen Strauss' aunt Helene had spent time for her work in the resistance in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Strauss who is a poet and and an author always wanted to know her It seems that I am finding more and more historical fiction books detailing women who worked in the French resistance. One might wonder if this was common and by reading The Nine: The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany, I can tell you that it was far more common than you might have thought. Gwen Strauss' aunt Helene had spent time for her work in the resistance in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Strauss who is a poet and and an author always wanted to know her aunt's story, but it seemed taboo to talk about it. She finally broached the subject with her aunt and found out about the daring escape of 9 women from the death march in the final days of Nazi Germany. I am so glad she found out the story and revealed it to us. It is quite amazing and I enjoyed it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wagner

    This book recounts a fascinating story of a group of women, arrested for their work with the Resistance, who escaped from a concentration camp in the final days of World War II and then made their way through the front lines of the war in an effort to return home. This book isn't particularly long, but it does provide a window into the kinds of activities women engaged in the Resistance and what happened to them when they were arrested by German police. Unfortunately, all of the women in this bo This book recounts a fascinating story of a group of women, arrested for their work with the Resistance, who escaped from a concentration camp in the final days of World War II and then made their way through the front lines of the war in an effort to return home. This book isn't particularly long, but it does provide a window into the kinds of activities women engaged in the Resistance and what happened to them when they were arrested by German police. Unfortunately, all of the women in this book were arrested towards the end of the war and so experienced shorter, but no less horrifying, internments in concentration camps. I appreciated the research that went into this book and I liked that so many of the women featured here were non-traditional figures who went on to have significant careers after the war. Fascinating reading and I would encourage anyone with an interest in World War II to give this book a chance.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily Preun

    "Perhaps we need to wonder about our tendencies to form hierarchies of suffering, especially when those hierarchies are based on a concept of female purity." -Gwen Strauss,The Nine. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 I finished The Nine this morning and I have so many thoughts to share. This is a true story of 9 brave women who founded and joined the Resistance during WWII, they would go on to each be arrested, tortured, and sent to various concentrations camps before setting out on a harrowing death march where The Nine na "Perhaps we need to wonder about our tendencies to form hierarchies of suffering, especially when those hierarchies are based on a concept of female purity." -Gwen Strauss,The Nine. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 I finished The Nine this morning and I have so many thoughts to share. This is a true story of 9 brave women who founded and joined the Resistance during WWII, they would go on to each be arrested, tortured, and sent to various concentrations camps before setting out on a harrowing death march where The Nine narrowly escape. This story is told by the author, @gwenskioski in first person and I really loved the way we dived in and out of present and past tense. I can't even imagine the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured into the research of this book. This story is so important for so many reasons. • It's the first time all nine stories have been put into one book. Many of the women wrote their own books accounting this incredible story, but this is the first all in one account. •It highlights so many groups that were marginalized during the Holocaust that you might not know about or think about. •This book allows for women to be highlighted for the bravery they showed during WWII. It explains the stigmatizing shame that came at the end of the war and silenced women of telling their stories. It describes how women were rarely acknowledged for their sacrifices and contributions. It was encouraged that the men get the credit for they had been "humiliated enough" as if pretty girls in their 20's did not experience the same horrors. •This book is horrifying and yet incredibly beautiful. I used my 'serendipity' bookmark during this read and by the end I realized it could not have been more fitting. As a group, they found Serendipity within themselves and through each other. Their friendship saved them. •If you have any interest at all in feminism, history, the Holocaust, and female empowerment, this will be an incredible read. I encourage anyone and everyone to pick up a copy when it is released on May 4/21.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    Thank you Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Nine follows the story of 9 women who were a part of the French Resistance during World War II, how they all individually became political prisoners, ended up at a concentration camp, then a labor camp, and how they escaped and made their way home. This is an incredibly moving story. Just reading a history about what it was like for women in concentration camps, during the war, and just after the war, was r Thank you Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. The Nine follows the story of 9 women who were a part of the French Resistance during World War II, how they all individually became political prisoners, ended up at a concentration camp, then a labor camp, and how they escaped and made their way home. This is an incredibly moving story. Just reading a history about what it was like for women in concentration camps, during the war, and just after the war, was really refreshing. I do not think I have read this story from a women's lense yet, Strauss did an excellent job of making sure you understood the context of the times. The structure is kind of set up in different stories. Story A) We get the background of all of these women and how they came to the camp. Story B) They are all together and how they escape and make their way to freedom. Story C) The author looking for all the historical facts and interviewing surviving family members. I almost gave this book a 4 star review because at least in the ARC I read those 3 stories are interwoven with no chapter breaks, so you would be reading about how all of the women were together in a labor camp, then all of a sudden we were exploring the history of one of these women, then bam the author is talking from a future point of view where she writes about how she researched these women and how difficult it was to find some of the records. It was kind of jarring, so I hope the publisher got that note and it flows a little better. But I wouldn't let that stop you from reading this book. It was very engaging and full of historical details. And the author does not spare details. So if you are triggered by interrogation torture (all of these women were political prisoners) then you have been warned.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Linda McCutcheon

    "We are only a group of women, meaning no harm...We don't understand war. It's not our business. We are just lost. Just women." Helene uses these words to trick the police after her and the others escape from their death march. In the non fiction The Nine by Gwen Strauss we read first hand accounts of how these brave, resilient and fierce nine young women, all in their 20s, join the resistance in WWII against Hitler, smuggle arms, hide wanted resistant leaders, find safe routes to escape the Gest "We are only a group of women, meaning no harm...We don't understand war. It's not our business. We are just lost. Just women." Helene uses these words to trick the police after her and the others escape from their death march. In the non fiction The Nine by Gwen Strauss we read first hand accounts of how these brave, resilient and fierce nine young women, all in their 20s, join the resistance in WWII against Hitler, smuggle arms, hide wanted resistant leaders, find safe routes to escape the Gestapo, hide Jewish children and even when are prisoners find ways to sabotage a munition factory. The author is the grand niece of Helene and was able to do intense exhaustive interviews and gather the truth of these women's heroism, the lives they saved and, unfortunately, the vicious torture and abuse they suffered at the hands of their captors. We also learn the aftermath of this war on Helene, Nicole, Jacky, Zaza, Lon, Guigui, Zinka, Mena and Josee. The PTSD of being a survivor of the Holocaust and how it effects the generations of these survivors is something that needs to be understood by everyone. I also listened to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson. Hearing her speak the words of these remarkable women was one of the most awe inspiring book experiences of my life. The Nine reads like an historical fiction novel which is a testament to the author. There is a great deal to cover about The Nine and it was overwhelming and disjointed at times but nonetheless an achievement in WWII history. This is the one book I wholeheartedly recommend to all WWII history buffs whether you read fiction or non fiction. I received a free copy of this book and audiobook from the publishers for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    Nine women who worked for the Resistance were captured and sent to camps. Their courage saved them when they fell out of line, hid, and fled the camp before they were sent to the crematorium. They faced many challenges while escaping, but these women already led remarkable lives. While the author favors her own relative Helene in this account, she references accounts written or told by the other women. I felt the documentation was sparse in this account, but most of it did come from the women's Nine women who worked for the Resistance were captured and sent to camps. Their courage saved them when they fell out of line, hid, and fled the camp before they were sent to the crematorium. They faced many challenges while escaping, but these women already led remarkable lives. While the author favors her own relative Helene in this account, she references accounts written or told by the other women. I felt the documentation was sparse in this account, but most of it did come from the women's accounts or from interviews with their descendants. The advance review copy included some photographs which will hopefully be of better quality in the final book. At times the narrative did not flow well. Much of this was because of skipping between the current story and back story and because of telling the story of other women in chapters with a different one of the nine named in the chapter title. I received an advance review copy through GoodReads. Although reviews are appreciated, they are not required. (3.5 stars)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Nine female members of the French Resistance were captured by Nazis and transferred to prison/death camps. This book tells the story of these nine women. They banded together and each used their gifts, talents and abilities to survive. The women's resilience, courage and strength inspired me. When one was weak, the others lifted her up, and I appreciated their story of friendship. I appreciated the extensive notes. Sometimes, the book was difficult to read, though, as the author skips between ch Nine female members of the French Resistance were captured by Nazis and transferred to prison/death camps. This book tells the story of these nine women. They banded together and each used their gifts, talents and abilities to survive. The women's resilience, courage and strength inspired me. When one was weak, the others lifted her up, and I appreciated their story of friendship. I appreciated the extensive notes. Sometimes, the book was difficult to read, though, as the author skips between characters and past/present. For a well-researched book about nine unique women, this book is a winner.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Becky Skipper hickman

    This is such a good book. I’ve read books about what Germans did to people, but never in this detail. It’s rough to read. This book also details what happened after these women escaped and the rest of their lives.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Thank you in advance to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing an advanced review copy through Bookish First. A positive review was not required or requested, all words are my own. My grandfather served in World War II, but he was in the Pacific Theater (Leyte, Samar, Mindoro, Luzon) on an escort carrier. His ship was hit by a kamikaze plane. Thankfully no deaths, only three crewmen were hurt, and the ship was able to sail away for repairs under her own power. So, he was not on the Ger Thank you in advance to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing an advanced review copy through Bookish First. A positive review was not required or requested, all words are my own. My grandfather served in World War II, but he was in the Pacific Theater (Leyte, Samar, Mindoro, Luzon) on an escort carrier. His ship was hit by a kamikaze plane. Thankfully no deaths, only three crewmen were hurt, and the ship was able to sail away for repairs under her own power. So, he was not on the German front of the war, and I have no relatives alive that were on that front to hear their stories or their accounts. Sadly, he passed in 1980 before I got to hear his side. But, as WWII touched most of us by way of father, brother, mother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle – it is important to learn the entire history of it. It is important to hear from every aspect to learn about it. The school room education has very little time to delve into each micro aspect of this war that caused so many deaths. And, in the past two (2) years, I’ve read books from the occupation aspect (“Paris Never Leaves You”), Concentration camp aspect (“The Tattooist of Auschwitz”, “Cilka’s Journey”, “Lilac Girls”), “post-war/trials” (“The German House”); the allies/resistance (“The Land Beneath Us”; “The Socialite”), and the British civilians (“If I Were You”). I am also set to read Chris Karlson’s The Ack Ack Girl. Strange title, but a very real unit of female gunners in Britain. While a lot of these stories are fictionalized, a few were BASED on actual events. One book that ties into this one is Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly) (Victims) – While I didn’t particularly like the book, it was a fictionalized account of the Ravensbrück rabbits (the girls and women who were experimented on). Word of note: a lot of the women did not like that term, and it is easy to understand why. This is about the first true account of the atrocities I have read. There was EXTENSIVE research despite the fact that, sadly, none of the women were living at the time of the novel’s publication. One of the women, Hélène Podliasky, was the author’s aunt and one of nine women who escaped the death march and from Liepzig towards the end of World War II. The nine women were also part of the French resistance to fight the Germans, each one for their own reasons. Each of different backgrounds, various ages, some single, some married. What is contained in this book are extensive personal accounts as well as some notes. As a result, this is very detailed, often with crude language (“F” word and “S” word used a few times). Strauss is very realistic in presenting the stories – visceral and brutal descriptions bring these atrocities back to life in disturbing reality that might keep some readers up late at night. And, some readers who have a connection might be disturbed by the details Strauss put into this book. There will be mentions of genocide (the Holocaust obviously), war crimes, rape, and concentration camps. As this is my first introduction to the author’s writing, I cannot state if all her books contain this extensive research; but this is definitely one book I can say is very intensely presented. The first eight chapters (roughly 2/3) cover the women, sometimes by the pseudonym they’d give: Hélène, Zaza, Nicole, Lon and Guigui, Zinka, Josèe, Jacky, Mena. Aspects of their resistance activities – what led to them joining, their arrest, their connection to each other, and their escape to freedom. The accounts of treatment in the camps, the selection processes, and the work is done with graphic detail that it is hard to really read for long periods of time. In all honesty, I did speed read through some of it, taking frequent breaks. The women soon learn that they’re to be “liquidated” (yes, I shuddered reading it and writing it). While being marched out of the final camp, they decide to make a break for it through enemy terrain and unknown situations. It is definitely not easy either, as I didn’t think it would be. They’re treated warmly by some, with hostility by others, and at times even dine with German soldiers on their way to the American front, freedom looming in the distance. They come across other “corpses” of those marched to death or shot; they bicker; they face starvation. Still, they stay the course. In real life fashion, reaching the “line” isn’t dramatic. They’re met by two American officers in a vehicle. After their account, one offers them a “smoke”. The return to regular life isn’t as easy as it seems. Though their time with the Americans makes things a bit easier. At a refuge camp, the conditions remind them of the prisons they’d escaped. They do find a new house to stay in and find purpose there. Strauss, in addition to focusing on the nine women, added some notes about the “post-war” efforts: SS guards being forced to dig graves for those who were killed, the Leipzig mayor was forced to donate caskets and wreaths, how Ravensbrück got forgotten since it fell behind the Iron Curtain, the atrocities and rape that some of the Russian soldiers committed there, though there were some “rape” reports of American soldiers. Those were blamed on African-American soldiers at a high and questionable rate. When Germany finally surrenders one would think that the women would rejoice, but they don’t and it is a realistic expectation. They’re thinking of the ones that were lost and unable to be with them because of the war. It is interesting that this book was released four (4) days before V.E (Victory in Europe) Day – 5/8/1945. After the war comes a new mission for the women – to get home. Not all of them go home at the same time. Seven of them head home. Jacky decides to stay at the house in Grimma to help some of the refugees. Hélène works with the U.S Army, complete with uniform and car. Her job is to translate. Though only six of them make it home to Paris. Lon leaves and heads for Holland. The six remaining women – Zaza, Nicole, Guigui, Zinka, Josèe, and Mena find that the authorities were ill prepared for their return home as well as the state of some concentration camp survivors. Even some family members couldn’t recognize their loved ones due to the starvation and emaciated version of the returnees. Life in Paris is different than what anyone remembers, which is to be expected. After their return home, the women lost contact with each other. Strauss briefly touches on survivors’ guilt as well as the fact that no one wanted to talk about what happened during that time. It was either too painful or too embarrassing. It was commonplace for survivors to marry each other. As two of the women were already married, six of them ended up marrying survivors as well since they all understood the trauma the other had faced. Strauss goes over what happened to some of the women after their return home. While the history of the others is more complex, Josèe virtually disappears. There is only one paragraph about her. In 1964, on the anniversary of their liberation, Nicole wrote an article for Elle about Ravensbrück and her experience. One survivor wrote a scathing letter to the editor admonishing Nicole for publishing painful memories. Imagine being told, by another survivor, that your experiences and statement are “unseemly”, to be discreet, no one wants to hear it, and an over-bragging, dramatic account. Yet, Strauss presents the accounts and history for those who were not interested and those who are so it isn’t forgotten. At times this book veers completely away from the women; highlighting the plight of some prisoners who died days after liberation due to their weakened condition. Some were hanging on just to be free when they died. One interesting, and sad aspect was the use of “butterfly notes” to toss out of the trains and brave people often picked them up to send on to the women’s families. These notes are often the very last traces of mothers, daughters, and sisters. This is not a book that one reads to enjoy, so it is NOT enjoyable. I cannot say I LOVED it. I read it to learn another aspect or POV of the war. It definitely adds to the history I have learned and gives a complete, well-rounded picture.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura Doe

    This book is not for the faint hearted and made me cry for the nine women and the others who they met along their way so many times. We follow nine women as they escape from a death march and their journey to try and get to safety. Throughout the recount of the escape, their own stories of who they were before and how they came to be at the concentration camp were told. The resilience of these nine women throughout everything they enjoyed was inspiring and that they retained their hope and kindn This book is not for the faint hearted and made me cry for the nine women and the others who they met along their way so many times. We follow nine women as they escape from a death march and their journey to try and get to safety. Throughout the recount of the escape, their own stories of who they were before and how they came to be at the concentration camp were told. The resilience of these nine women throughout everything they enjoyed was inspiring and that they retained their hope and kindness after the disgusting treatment that they endured is nothing short of a miracle. The story is harrowing, but also one that I feel everyone must know. I thought I knew enough about what happened in those concentration camps in World War II but after reading this I have found that I only knew the tiniest amount of what they endured. Although I know this is a true story, sometimes I had to remind myself that it was not fiction as some of the passages were so horrific in their descriptions that it is almost unbelievable that a human being can treat another human being like that. This book will stay with me for a long time, which I am glad of. Thank you to Gwen Strauss and Pigeonhole for allowing me to read this incredible book.

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