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Sarah Helm was a reporter on the Sunday Times and Diplomatic Editor for the Independent before becoming Jerusalem and then Brussels correspondent for the same paper. A Life in Secrets was her first book.
Created by Heinrich Himmler, Ravensbruck was the only Concentration camp set up for women – and their children. It was up and running in 1939 and Sarah Helm details the history of Ravensbruck from its beginning to the liberation by the Red Army in 1945. The women suffered greatly, from their female guards, slave working in factories, unspeakable medical experimentation and forced sterilisation, many were sent on to Auschwitz never to be seen again. So many deaths – including four members of the British Special Operations Executive, so much tragedy and suffering but still there was hope, the women trying to create some normality in their lives and there were some extraordinary women held in the camp. Sarah Helm tells their stories of resistance and strength bringing light to a story of cruelty and the loss of many thousands of lives. Like for Like Reading A Train in Winter: A Story of Resistance, Friendship and Survival in Auschwitz, Caroline Moorehead Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice: The True Story of WWII Special Agents, Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne, Susan Ottaway
Winner of the Longman-History Today Book Prize 2016 On a sunny morning in May 1939 a phalanx of 800 women - housewives, doctors, opera singers, politicians, prostitutes - were marched through the woods fifty miles north of Berlin, driven on past a shining lake, then herded through giant gates. Whipping and kicking them were scores of German women guards. Their destination was Ravensbruck, a concentration camp designed specifically for women by Heinrich Himmler, prime architect of the Nazi genocide. For decades the story of Ravensbruck was hidden behind the Iron Curtain and today is still little known. Using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War, and interviews with survivors who have never spoken before, Helm has ventured into the heart of the camp, demonstrating for the reader in riveting detail how easily and quickly the unthinkable horror evolved.
In the weeks leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the pressure on the UK government to commit to joining the American cause was escalating. And in one household the pressure had completely erased the line between the political and the personal - the home Tony Blair's Chief of Staff.
During World War Two the Special Operation Executive's French Section sent more than 400 agents into Occupied France -- at least 100 never returned and were reported 'Missing Believed Dead' after the war. Twelve of these were women who died in German concentration camps -- some were tortured, some were shot, and some died in the gas chambers. Vera Atkins had helped prepare these women for their missions, and when the war was over she went out to Germany to find out what happened to them and the other agents lost behind enemy lines. But while the woman who carried out this extraordinary mission appeared quintessentially English, she was nothing of the sort. Vera Atkins, who never married, covered her life in mystery so that even her closest family knew almost nothing of her past. In A LIFE IN SECRETS Sarah Helm has stripped away Vera's many veils and -- with unprecedented access to official and private papers, and the cooperation of Vera's relatives -- vividly reconstructed an extraordinary life.