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Moszkiewiez, Helene.

Toronto, Macmillan, cl985.189pp, cloth, $23.95, ISBN 0-7715-9833-5. CIP

Reviewed by Leslie McGrath

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

Helene Moszkiewiez was a spirited young Jewish girl in 1937 when she first met Frangois, a fellow Belgian and an army officer. They met again in 1939, after the outbreak of war, when, to her disgust, he appeared wearing a German uniform and calling himself "Franz." Franz, however, confided that he was a spy, and urged her to join him in his work for the Belgian underground. Already angered by the German aggression and their persecution of the Jews, Helene agreed, and threw herself into recklessly successful intelligence work. Armed with unusually good looks and fluent German, she penetrated the very headquarters of the Gestapo in Belgium, getting jobs there for Franz and herself.

Moszkiewiez's narrative is mainly concerned with her years with the Gestapo. Her prose style is spare and forthright, but this does nothing to dispel the suspense of what was an extremely dangerous position. Her story is one of hair-breadth escapes and daring escapades during which she and her fellow Resistance workers attempted to rescue prisoners, warn intended victims of impending raids, and generally foil the Nazis. The danger increased as Moszkiewiez came to realize that Franz was a double agent, willing to sacrifice her life to protect his identity. In spite of her fears, Moszkiewiez persevered, and was able to identify the informers and collaborators she had been forced to work with at the Gestapo headquarters when Belgium was finally liberated.

Moszkiewiez modestly attributes her survival primarily to luck, but her story itself attests to quick, courageous, if sometimes foolhardy thinking that saved her own life many times. Her emotions are expressed more readily through actions than words, but wistful moments do occur, as when Moszkiewiez writes of her parents, deported on the last train to leave Belgium for the concentration camps, and of her husband of one week, who was another victim of the Holocaust. Most moving of all, she writes of a fear that must have haunted many Resistance workers; that on at least one occasion she might have caused a young Jewish girl's capture through ill-timed efforts to help her. Inside the Gestapo is documented with photographs and is well bound, with a striking cover. Highly recommended for adult collections.

Leslie McGrath, Toronto P.L., Toronto, Ont.
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