‘The incredible true story of a resistance fighter who survived three concentration camps‘
– Sabine’s War
[ About the Book ]
Sabine’s War is the previously untold story of a remarkable resistance fighter and her incredible story of survival against the odds.
When Germany invaded Holland in May 1940, Sabine Zuur joined the resistance movement without a moment’s hesitation aged just 22. Helping to hide those avoiding the German authorities, she was soon betrayed and subjected to repeated violent interrogations. Many of her friends were executed but Sabine was instead sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp, via the Amersfoort and
Ravensbrück camps. Enduring gruelling conditions and backbreaking forced manual labour, she survived through a combination of guile and good fortune.
But it was only after Sabine’s death that her daughter Eva discovered an archive of letters detailing her extraordinary life, revealing a rich inner world and a past she had discussed little. Amongst them were declarations of love from pilot Taro, shot down in his Spitfire over northern France aged just 26; letters to her mother smuggled out in her prison laundry; and passionate, creepy missives from a German professional criminal named Gebele who would ultimately save Sabine’s life. She emerges from this correspondence as a woman with an indefinable aura, somehow in control of her own destiny even when to all intents and purposes she was not.
A transfixing story of survival, Sabine’s War captures a remarkable life in the words of the young woman who lived it.
[ My Review ]
Sabine’s War by Eva Taylor will be published by Harper North on 31st March and is described as ‘an astonishing tale of romance, resistance and bravery’. I am delighted to be kicking off the blog-tour today sharing my review with you all.
Sabine’s War recounts the life of Dutch resistance fighter Sabine Zuur, as told by her daughter Eva Taylor. Growing up, Eva was very much in the dark about the extent of her mother’s involvement in the Second World War. It was only following her death that Eva discovered letters that provided her with a greater and very shocking insight into the secret life her mother, Sabine, had lived. Eva provides a background into Sabine’s early years but it is her experiences in the concentration camps that really impacted me.
After being betrayed while a member of the resistance, Sabine was sent to Amersfoort and then spent sixteen long months in Ravensbrook, before her final internment in Mauthausen.
“Mauthausen is situated on a high hill. After having walked for several hours, we finally arrived. Our first sight was of the big entrance gate, topped by a Hakenkreuz and a large eagle, lit up by searchlights. The oppressive fear I felt then will always stay with me. We were herded onto a large square and had to stand there till morning. Eventually a fierce-looking group of SS guards took us to the underground laundry. We knew what to expect: this was the moment we would be gassed.”
Reading Sabine’s actual words in various parts of this book sent shivers through my spine. Her courage and determination shines through, as she made a decision to keep her spirits up with the hope of eventual freedom. Sickly and injured, she came under the eye of a German prisoner, Franz Josef Gebele. His obsession with Sabine ultimately saved her life, providing her with clothing and foodstuff that enabled her to survive much of the horror that was taking place around her.
Eva Taylor provides details of the strange relationship that played out between her mother and Gebele, with extracts from the letters he wrote to her mother. His writing was odd, his attachment to Sabine was undoubtedly creepy but she was in no position to deny his infatuation if it kept her alive from day-to-day.
Sabine did survive the war but she lost many friends along the way. There was a restlessness within her for years that Eva was never able to pin down. After having read through historical records, and her mothers archive, Eva was able to appreciate her mother’s temperament better. Sabine’s War is a tribute from a proud daughter to her very much loved mother, a heroic and gutsy individual who refused to be broken. An important historical account of a heinous and barbaric war, as seen through the eyes of one individual, Sabine’s War is a testament to the fortitude of all who lived and died during these horrific years of our history.
[ Bio ]
Eva Taylor is the daughter of Sabine Zuur and Peter Tazelaar, a major Dutch war hero. She was born in Utrecht, but has lived in Cheshire, England since she was 18.