Lecture: How a French Underground Network Saved Hundreds During Nazi Occupation, Feb. 20 at Fairfield University

Lecture: How a French Underground Network Saved Hundreds During Nazi Occupation, Feb. 20 at Fairfield University

Media Contact: Susan Cipollaro, scipollaro@fairfield.edu , 203-254-4000 x2726

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (February 4, 2019) – On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, the lecture “Suzanne's Children: How an Underground Network of Catholics, Protestants and Jews Defied the Nazis in Paris and Saved 500 Children from Auschwitz,” will be delivered at Fairfield University’s Wien Experimental Theatre, Quick Center for the Arts, at 5 p.m. by Anne Nelson, professor at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, author, and playwright. The lecture references Nelson’s Book, Suzanne's Children , the thrilling story of a “kidnapping” in Auschwitz and the brave women who orchestrated it. Sponsored by The Bennett Center for Judaic Studies at Fairfield University, the event is free and open to the public.

Nelson’s book details the story of Suzanne Spaak, a wealthy woman from a Belgian Catholic family who fought secretly against Jewish imprisonment during Nazi Occupation. Spaak used her position in society as a wealthy, Catholic woman to travel freely on behalf of the movement, even going as far as employing Jewish fugitives in her home as “tutors” or “maids.”

Suzanne Spaak’s activism escalated in February 1943, when a group of Christian and Jewish women staged a kidnapping of 63 Jewish children who were being held for deportation to Auschwitz. The women were part of a network organized by Spaak and her partners in the Paris Jewish Underground. In 2017, Nelson’s book brought this story to light for the first time.

Suzanne’s Children is a sequel to Nelson’s 2009 book, Red Orchestra, a riveting account of German resistance to Hitler. “Anne Nelson’s talk will be an uplifting companion talk to the haunting ‘Ghosts: French Holocaust Children,’ an installation of sculptural and photographic work by Robert Hirsch currently at Fairfield University’s Walsh Gallery,” said Ellen Umansky, PhD, director of the Bennett Center. “Hirsch’s exhibition conjures up images of French Jewish children who died, while Nelson’s talk will focus on those French children, who, through the efforts of Suzanne Spaak and others, survived.”

Nelson is an author and a playwright and teaches at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including a 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship and the 1989 Livingston Award for international reporting. Her books and articles have been published widely, and her play The Guys has been staged throughout the world. As a war correspondent in El Salvador and Guatemala from 1980 to 1983, Nelson published reports and photography in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times , and many other publications. She is a graduate of Yale University.

The lecture is free and open to the public however, registration is required due to limited seating. To reserve a seat, email bennettcenter@fairfield.edu or call 203-254-4000 x2066.

Posted On: 02-08-2019 11:02 AM

Volume: 51 Number: 49

Fairfield University is a modern Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200-acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.