A Train in Winter

An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship and Survival in World War Two

Publisher: Vintage Canada

On an icy morning in Paris in January 1943, 230 French women resisters were rounded up from the Gestapo detention camps and sent on a train to Auschwitz--the only train, in the four years of German occupation, to take women of the Resistance to a death camp. The youngest was a schoolgirl of 15, the eldest a farmer's wife of 68; among them were teachers, biochemists, salesgirls, secretaries, housewives and university lecturers. Six of the women were still alive in 2010 and able to tell their stories of the great affection and camaraderie that took hold among the group. They became friends, and it was precisely this friendship that kept so many of them alive.
     Drawing on interviews with survivors and their families, on German, French and Polish archives, and on documents held by WW2 resistance organisations, A Train in Winter covers a harrowing part of history that is, ultimately, a portrait of ordinary people, of bravery and endurance, and of the particular qualities of female friendship.


1. What is the importance of women’s friendship in A Train in Winter? How is it shown, what forms does it take, and what difference does it make to the lives of the women described in the book?

2. How has this book changed your view of World War Two, the French Resistance, the role of women in wartime...

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"A harrowing but also uplifting shared story of friendship, courage and endurance." The Independent
"By turns heartbreaking and inspiring." The New York Times Book Review
"Compassionate, meticulous and compulsively enthralling.... Essential reading." Daily Mail
"A tale of how female friendship 'can make the difference between living and dying.'" The Sunday Times
"A pitch-perfect study of human depravity, and of the heroism it can inspire." The Economist