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Suzanne Weiss memoir available October 1

September 24, 2019

‘Holocaust to Resistance’ tells of solidarity ‘then and now’

By John Riddell: Long a familiar figure in Toronto left rallies and action coalitions, Suzanne Weiss has now published a life story arching from her first years in France occupied by Hitler’s troops to present-day tasks of liberation and eco-revolution.

Suzanne’s publisher, Fernwood, has organized a book launch on October 18, 7 p.m. at Toronto’s Friends House, 60 Lowther Avenue. She is also responding to many invitations to speak in Canada and beyond. To discuss an event, contact suzanneweiss63 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Suzanne Berliner Weiss, Holocaust to Resistance: My Journey, Fernwood Publishing, 2019, 311 pp.

A new website at presents Suzanne’s eloquent introductory video along with a wealth of resources on the book: historic photos, readers’ comments, the table of contents, a list of coming events, and more.

Suzanne (second from left) with fellow orphans and their dog, Zezette, at Raincy-le-Plateau children’s home 1946. See ‘Holocaust to Resistance,’ pp. 13-14.

Among the comments, that of Paul Le Blanc captures the scope of Suzanne’s story:

Holocaust to Resistance offers a very rich slice of social history, providing a down-to-earth, very personal narrative extending from the Second World War into the Age of Trump: the life-journey of a Holocaust survivor whose entire life became a resistance against the deep-seated structures of inhumanity.

Readers of different generations will identify with this a voyage of self-discovery, at moments a “coming of age” story, and also a fascinating mystery, posed in the first chapter and finally solved in the last.—Paul Le Blanc, La Roche College, Pittsburgh.

As Suzanne’s partner, I accompanied her on her many research trips to France, busying myself with details of trains, accommodation, and appointment schedules. My grasp of French history came in useful, but I soon found that Suzanne’s inquiries were deepening my knowledge and, in fact, adding to our collective understanding of the tragic and heroic Holocaust years in France.

Here are the opening words of Suzanne’s book, which I have cross-posted from her blog at

My Life as a Quest

By Suzanne Berliner Weiss: Once again, I was on my way back to Auvergne, to the hidden home of my early years. Exhausted from the transatlantic flight, I rested my head on John’s shoulder — John, my loving and devoted partner. We have done many expeditions to France, the land of my origin. I listened to the rattle of the train and watched the green fields fly by. It was on such a train that I first came to Auvergne, in 1943, still an infant in the arms of a woman. My mind drifted back. She was a stranger. I sensed her apprehension. I was restless and fretful. Then I drifted off. I felt a jolt. The stranger holding me was talking to two men. They asked questions. She showed papers. I sensed her fear — but the men passed on.

As I grew up, I forgot that voyage, forgot the green farmlands and hills of Auvergne, and forgot the French language, my mother tongue. I left France as a child and I vowed never to return. I wanted to erase those bitter years. But now, revisiting Auvergne after seventy-two years, I knew that I owed everything to this region — not only my life but its direction and its pervading sense of purpose….

An Auvergne journalist wrote that I had “lived many lives during my 75 years.” Very true. I had taken a battering during my childhood years that left its mark on me. My life took shape as a quest to heal wounds of wartime trauma and seek links with communities striving for social justice. My direction was set during that time in Auvergne as a child in the care of the anti-Nazi Resistance.

Excerpted from Holocaust to Resistance: My Journey, pp. 2, 4.
Copyright © 2019 Suzanne Berliner Weiss

Suzanne will post ten brief excerpts from her book. To read them all, go to and fill out the form “Follow blog via email.”


  1. Susan Bernstein permalink

    John, This is Susan your former neighbor (We still live here) … I’ve read Suzanne’s book and we have things in common, including my cousin being in CORE 1961 to 1963. I don’t know how to contact Suzanne. Thanks.

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