My Stripes Were Earned in Hell by Jean-Pierre Renouard
A French Resistance Fighter's Memoir of Survival in a Nazi Prison Camp

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Synopsis

This remarkable memoir tells the story of Jean-Pierre Renouard, a gentile, in Germany's Nazi prison camps. In this spare, compelling narrative of a year during which he and the world he knew descended into hell, he recounts his battle to survive—physically, emotionally, and morally. In May 1944, just a month before D-Day, Renouard, then a teenaged French underground fighter, was captured by the Gestapo, crammed into a cattle wagon with a hundred others, and sent to Neuengamme in Germany. After two months, he was transferred to the Misburg subcamp. In both camps he suffered, as did all his fellow inmates, from insufficient food and shelter and no medicine while being forced to do long hours of hard labor. Renouard vividly depicts the labor camps' brutal daily life and social hierarchies, his personal struggles, the friendships gained and lost, and, of course, his incredible and primary task of survival. When he was finally transferred to the infamous Bergen-Belsen death camp, a typhus epidemic had already spread, and he helplessly watched his last surviving comrades die. Even after Allied troops liberated the camp on April 15, 1945, he had to wait painful months before he could return to France. Written in a deliberately neutral tone, without hatred or even resentment, Renouard's memoir is a memorial to those murdered and a powerful testimony to the human capacity to commit—and to survive—mass atrocity.
 

About Jean-Pierre Renouard

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Jean-Pierre Renouard, a former member of the French Resistance, is a commander of the Legion of Honor. He was awarded the Medal of Resistance and the Croix de Guerre.
 
Published December 16, 2011 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 137 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for My Stripes Were Earned in Hell

Publishers Weekly

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But whether the author is recalling the sensation of drinking a cold beer in a burning house, or the moans of his friend dying from systematic starvation in Bergen-Belsen, Renouard's account strives for objectivity and retains an unsentimental tone, painting a picture of human nature that is capa...

Mar 05 2012 | Read Full Review of My Stripes Were Earned in Hel...

Examiner

Very concise chapters proffer brief but excellent descriptions of a cadre of fellow inmates in each of the squalid and terrifying Nazi camps.

Sep 11 2012 | Read Full Review of My Stripes Were Earned in Hel...

New York Journal of Books

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“This genuine record of Nazi terror stands as a powerful literary achievement . . . a superb reading experience.”

Jan 16 2012 | Read Full Review of My Stripes Were Earned in Hel...

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