Holocaust Odysseys

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The Jews of Saint-Martin-Vésubie and Their Flight through France and Italy

Susan Zuccotti

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The chilling, nuanced story of nine Jewish families, unwanted refugees in France and Italy during the Holocaust, and how they struggled in the face of persecution

This book describes the ever-escalating dangers to which Jewish refugees and recent immigrants were subjected in France and Italy as the Holocaust marched forward. Susan Zuccotti uncovers a grueling yet complex history of suffering and resilience through historical documents and personal testimonies from members of nine central and eastern European Jewish families, displaced to France in the opening years of the Second World War. The chronicle of their lives reveals clearly that these Jewish families experienced persecution of far greater intensity than citizen Jews or long-time resident immigrants. The odyssey of the nine families took them from hostile Vichy France to the Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vésubie and on to Italy, where German soldiers rather than hoped-for Allied troops awaited. Those who crossed over to Italy were either deported to Auschwitz or forced to scatter in desperate flight. Zuccotti brings to light the agonies of the refugees’ unstable lives, the evolution of French policies toward Jews, the reasons behind the flight from the relative idyll of Saint-Martin-Vésubie, and the choices that confronted those who arrived in Italy. Powerful archival evidence frames this history, while firsthand reports underscore the human cost of the nightmarish years of persecution.

Susan Zuccotti taught Holocaust history and modern French history at Barnard and Columbia Colleges, New York University, and Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She is the author of the award-winning Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy and currently is an independent historian living in New York City.

"Zuccotti brings multiple tales together into a coherent, compelling, and dramatic narrative."—Maud Mandel, Brown University

"Drawing on both witnesses and documents, Holocaust Odysseys tells the extraordinary story of hundreds of Jewish refugees who found refuge in mountainous country in the south of France and who later made their way to Italy, fleeing the Germans who hunted them. Justifiably, we concentrate on those who were murdered during the Holocaust. But we learn as well from those who, through determination, resourcefulness, careful planning, good timing, unusual opportunities, Jewish resistance, the sometimes heroic generosity of French and Italians—but most of all through sheer good fortune—emerged alive when the war finally ended. As Susan Zuccotti's narrative vividly relates, they experienced the best and the worst. For any balanced account of the Holocaust, we need to be aware of both."—Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies,

University of Toronto

"This author tells the story of nine eastern European Jewish families displaced to France in 1943 and their flight through Vichy France and German-occupied Italy. . . . As in her other books, the author combines a lucid narrative with meticulous historical accuracy."—Booklist
 

"These incredible stories demonstrate the perseverance and luck involved in surviving the Holocaust. . . . While relying on oral histories of survivors of these events, Zuccotti probes the strengths and limitations of that form. Supplementing their memories with historical documentation and context, she helps turn painful memories into valuable history."—Publishers Weekly
 

"This is a book that Susan Zuccotti is uniquely capable of writing.  Her knowledge is unparalleled, her handling of oral history is meticulous, a model of what can be done and what must be done to verify survivors’ accounts and then give it shape and form. Her narrative is compelling, skilled, sensitive, restrained and responsible."—

Michael Berenbaum

'Zuccotti's meticulous research...conveys the climate of fear, uncertainty and boredom in which her then-teenaged interllocutors grew up.'  - Delphine Strauss, FT Magazine

"Although based primarily on the oral testimonies of these Jewish survivors, who were mostly teenagers at the time, this beautifully written book also draws on published memoirs and secondary sources, as well as the rich archival research conducted for Zuccotti's previous books on the Holocaust in France and Italy, and the Vatican's response to the Holocaust. . . . Zuccotti has provided an important contribution to Holocaust historiography."—Vicki Caron, Shofar
ISBN: 9780300122947
Publication Date: May 28, 2007
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
2 maps and 33 figs. in a gallery
Under His Very Windows

The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy

Susan Zuccotti

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