THE NINE de Gwen Strauss

The gripping, previously untold WWII story of nine female resistance fighters who banded together to survive the camps and ultimately escaped from a final death march across war-torn Germany

The True Story of a Band of Women Who Survived the Worst of Nazi Germany
by Gwen Strauss
St. Martin’s Press, May 2021 (voir catalogue)

Credit: Robert Hale

At the end of WWII, Gwen Strauss’ great aunt Helene Podliasky led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped the SS and made their way through war torn Germany. Drawing on their various strengths—diplomacy, humor, courage—they made it across the front lines against all odds and eventually back to Paris. The women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance. They smuggled arms, harbored parachuting agents, trekked escape routes to Spain and hid Jewish children. They were arrested by French police, interrogated and tortured by the Gestapo, and deported to Germany. The group met at different points, in prison, in transit, and at Ravensbrück. By the time they were enslaved at the labor camp in Leipzig, they were a close-knit group of friends. During the final days of the war, the nine chose their moment and made a daring escape. Drawing on incredible research, this powerful, heart-stopping narrative is a moving tribute to the power of humanity and friendship in the darkest of times.

Gwen Strauss’ poems, short stories and essays have appeared in numerous journals including The New Republic, London Sunday Times, New England Review, and Kenyon Review and has published a collection of poetry, Trail of Stones. She was born and spent her early years in Haiti. Strauss lives in Southern France, where she is the Director of the artist’s residency program at the Dora Maar House.

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