Release date: Monday, September 1, 2008
Agnes Humbert was just another French woman living in Paris and working at the National Museum of Art and Popular Tradition until June of 1940 when the Nazis invaded France. Agnes was an incredibly strong willed woman and is not willing to simply cede her beloved country.
…the general urges all Frenchmen to rally around him, to carry on the struggle. I feel I have come back to life. A feeling I thought had died for ever stirs within me again: hope. There is one man after all – one alone, perhaps – who understands what I feel in my hear: ‘It’s not over yet.’
Determined to do something to fight this invasion, Agnes joins a small group of her friends and together they function as part of the resistance. They begin copying tracts like “33 Hints to the Occupied” and stickers saying “Long live General de Gaulle” for distribution, as well as publishing a newspaper called “Resistance.” This group operated for about 10 months before being arrested by the German police.
The majority of Agnes’ story takes place during her time in German work camps and after her time in Germany after her liberation but before the actual end of the war. It was amazing to read how strong she stayed and how she maintained her humanity and compassion while nearly being worked to death. She even maintained compassion towards the German people:
There is a sentiment, all too frequently heard already, that sadly seems to sum up the situation as far as many French people are concerned: ‘We should make them suffer.’ It is a sentiment that fills me, a former political deportee, with dread.
This was a very fascinating read. I have read far fewer books about the experiences of political prisoners than about those of Jewish descent. My primary problem with it was trying to keep straight all of her acquaintances, particularly when she was actively working in her resistance group. However, this is somewhat understandable, as the book originated as her private diary. I simply let the names wash over me and kept going. All in all I thought this a very worth-while book.