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Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Art of Resistance : My Four Years in the French Underground: A Memoir Justus Rosenberg

This is a fascinating story, but occasionally written in a dry style. Justus Rosenberg looks back on his exciting years in the Resistance and provides insights into the famous characters he met, such as Chagall and Peggy Guggenheim in this amazing tale of daring and courage, against all odds.

When he was only a teenager, Rosenberg looked forward to going to the prestigious Sorbonne from his homeland in Poland.  He enjoyed his time studying in Paris where he learned fluent French but he didn't realise when he left Poland that he would be heading into the maelstrom as the Nazis leapt to power.  Ability and luck together with his blue eyes and blonde hair saved him from many dire situations, until he started work for the legend of the Resistance, Varian Fry, in Marseille.  Fry had a huge underground network helping anti-Nazi intellectuals and artists escape Vichy France. Here, Rosenberg met strange characters, such as the heiress Mary-Jayne Gold whose gangster boyfriend apparently helped provide money for the network! He also met Lisa Fittko who helped people escape across the Pyrenees.

The most dramatic scene in the book occurs when Rosenberg is arrested and jailed. Fearing a terrible death in a concentration camp, he follows the advice to pretend to be sick and ends up in hospital with his appendix taken out! A priest helps to save him, and he starts work in a Resistance cell learning to fight the Germans...

Justus Rosenberg is now a professor of Literature at 96 and still teaches occasionally. He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French government for his services in the Resistance.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in the French Resistance.


1 comment:

Hels said...

I was fascinated in the Varian Fry stories, and still have a lot to learn. I don't recognise Rosenberg's name but that makes his book even more interesting.

Hels
https://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com/2010/04/varian-fry-hero-and-rescuer-of.html