A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival by Caroline Moorehead - review by Patrick Marnham

Patrick Marnham

Suite Française

A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival


Chatto & Windus 374pp £20

In occupied France, the resistance organiser Jacques Baumel led a secretive existence from 1942 to 1944:

We lived every day with the fear of betrayal. It became our daily diet. We changed our address all the time. We stayed indoors all day. We jumped at the slightest noise outside the window. We froze every time the doorbell rang. It was in Lyons that I discovered that every house has its own music, the private music of the instruments played by each member of the household. A well-tuned ear picked out the new instruments, or the false notes or the silences that had not been written into the score. The strain drove men mad. You never get used to the fear of betrayal.

Baumel was a meticulous man who survived three terrifying years without being caught. None of the hundreds of secret meetings he organised was ever discovered. He held out until Lyons was liberated by American troops in August 1944. He then returned to civilian life, just glad to have survived.

Baumel divided resisters into three categories. There were family people, carrying on with daily life while they assisted fugitives or agents. These were usually caught after a few months. There were full-time

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