Book Reviews

Hidden Children of the Holocaust:
Belgian Nuns and Their Daring Rescue of Young Jews from the Nazis
Suzanne Vromen

Hidden Children of the Holocaust: Belgian Nuns and Their Daring Rescue of Young Jews from the Nazis.
By Suzanne Vromen. ( Professor Emerita of Sociology, Bard College,).
Oxford University Press May 2008 240p illus.  First published May 15, 2008 (Booklist).
$24.95 (9780195181289). 940.53.

Review - Booklist

Never will every Holocaust story be told, but powerful tales of courage, rescue, and compromise continue to surface. Vromen, professor emeritus of sociology at Bard College, casts light on the precarious lives of hidden Jewish children in occupied Belgium and the brave nuns who gave them shelter and care. Her groundbreaking research was inspired by her own experience. As a child, Vromen escaped occupied Belgium with her family, who found refuge in the Belgian Congo, where she attended a convent school. Recalling her “initial bewilderment at being plunged suddenly into a Catholic milieu,” Vromen was able to connect at the deepest level with the surviving rescuers and former hidden children she interviewed. These remarkably detailed and profoundly moving conversations are matched by Vromen’s fresh and insightful analysis of knotty questions of identity, inheritance, faith, and survival. Writing with a disciplined clarity, Vromen chronicles the integration of young Jews into convent life, the baptism of many and the conversion of some, and the psychological, social, and spiritual repercussions. Vromen’s exacting and corrective work of history and remembrance is uniquely sensitive and illuminating. —Donna Seaman


“Suzanne Vromen’s deeply moving book about Jewish children hidden in Belgian convents during World War II is an extraordinary study of human courage, devotion, and transcendent spirit. Capturing the voices of those who were saved and of their rescuers, Vromen illuminates history and offers us inspiration.”
Susannah Heschel, author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus.

“Suzanne Vromen masterfully uncovers the hidden history not just of Jewish children rescued during the Holocaust, but also of the courageous women who saved their lives. Vromen has restored a missing piece of the Belgian and Jewish past. She tells the story of the children and their saviors with tact, gentleness, and insight.”
Deborah Dash Moore, author of GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation.

Hidden Children of the Holocaust offers important insights into the lives of children who disappeared behind Convent doors in Belgium during the Holocaust. We still know far too little about what happened to children during the Nazi period and even less about those who were hidden by Catholic institutions. Relying on both the printed record and interviews with some of the children and the priests and nuns who hid them, Suzanne Vromen paints a vivid picture. This is an important book that will captivate readers and open a door to a body of knowledge that has been hidden for far too long.”
Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving


Copyright 2008 Judy Cohen, all rights reserved.