Following the horrors of Kristallnacht in November of 1938, frightened parents were forced to find refuge for their children, far from the escalating anti-Jewish violence. A courageous group of Belgian women organized a desperate and highly dangerous rescue mission to usher nearly 1,000 children out of Germany and Austria. Of these children, 93 were placed on a freight train, traveling through the night away from their families and into the relative safety of Vichy France. The children along with their protectors spent a harsh winter in an abandoned barn with little food before eventually finding shelter in the isolated Château de la Hille in southern France. While several of the youngest children were safely routed to the United States, those who remained continued to be hunted by Nazi soldiers until finally smuggled illegally across the Swiss Alps to safe houses. Remarkably, all but 11 of the original 93 children survived the war due to the unrelenting efforts of their protectors and their own resilience. As one of the La Hille children, Reed recalls traveling from abandoned convents to stately homes in the foothills of the Pyrenees, always scrambling to keep one step ahead of the Nazis.
"This stands by itself among the very few books and films that address the stories of children who survived the Holocaust." (Richard P. Unsworth, Smith College)
"Reed is to be commended for the careful archival work and the wide range of primary sources he was able to gather." (Shannon L. Fogg, author of The Politics of Everyday Life in Vichy France)
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