Suzanne Spaak was born into the Belgian Catholic elite and married into the country’s leading political family. Her brother-in-law was the Foreign Minister and her husband Claude was a playwright and patron of the painter Renée Magritte. In Paris in the late 1930s her friendship with a Polish Jewish refugee led her to her life’s purpose. When France fell and the Nazis occupied Paris, she joined the Resistance. She used her fortune and social status to enlist allies among wealthy Parisians and church groups. Then, under the eyes of the Gestapo, Suzanne and women from the Jewish and Christian resistance groups “kidnapped” hundreds of Jewish children to save them from the gas chambers.
Suzanne’s Children is the “dogged…page-turning account” (Kirkus Reviews) of this incredible story of courage in the face of evil. “Anne Nelson is superb at showing the upheavals in Europe since WWI through vivid, illuminating details…and she also masterfully describes the incremental changes in the Jews’ plight under the Occupation” (Booklist). It was during the final year of the Occupation when Suzanne was caught in the Gestapo dragnet that was pursuing a Soviet agent she had aided. She was executed shortly before the liberation of Paris. Suzanne Spaak is honored in Israel as one of the Righteous Among Nations. Nelson’s “heartfelt story is almost a model for how popular history should be written; it will satisfy lovers of history, Jewish history in particular” (Library Journal).