The Forgotten Names

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Pub Date Jun 11 2024 | Archive Date Jul 12 2024

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In August 1942, French parents were faced with a horrible choice: watch their children die, or abandon them forever. Fifty years later, it becomes one woman’s mission to match the abandoned names with the people they belong to.

Five years after the highly publicized trial of Klaus Barbie, the “Butcher of Lyon,” law student Valérie Portheret began her doctoral research into the 108 children who disappeared from Vénissieux fifty years earlier, children who somehow managed to escape deportation and certain death in the German concentration camps. She soon discovers that their rescue was no unexplainable miracle. It was the result of a coordinated effort by clergy, civilians, the French Resistance, and members of other humanitarian organizations who risked their lives as part of a committee dedicated to saving those most vulnerable innocents.

Theirs was a heroic act without precedent in Nazi-occupied Europe, made possible due to a loophole in the Nazi agenda to deport all Jewish immigrants from the country: a legally recognized exemption for unaccompanied minors. Therefore, to save their children, the Jewish mothers of Vénissieux were asked to make the ultimate sacrifice of abandoning them forever.

Told in dual timelines, The Forgotten Names is a reimagined account of the true stories of the French men and women who have since been named Righteous Among the Nations, the children they rescued, the stifled cries of shattered mothers, and a law student, whose twenty-five-year journey allowed those children to reclaim their heritage and remember their forgotten names.

  • World War II historical fiction inspired by true events
  • Includes discussion questions for book clubs, a historical timeline, and notes from the author
  • Book length: 70,000 words
  • Also by author: Auschwitz LullabyChildren of the StarsRemember MeThe Librarian of Saint-Malo, The Teacher of Warsaw, The Swiss Nurse

In August 1942, French parents were faced with a horrible choice: watch their children die, or abandon them forever. Fifty years later, it becomes one woman’s mission to match the abandoned names...

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ISBN 9781400248414
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

THE FORGOTTEN NAMES by MARIO ESCOBAR is a brilliantly written description of the horrors perpretrated aganst the Jews in France during the Germao occupation. We learn about the brave men and women who made it their business, often paying a horrible price, to save over one hundred children from the Venissieux prison in August 1942. We see the courage and unconditional love of the parents who signed away their precious children in order to save their lives. I like to see the Jews, Catholics and Protestants working together to save God’s chosen people. I also like the scriprture references…….
In 1992: Valerie Portheret chose to write her university thesis on these forgotten children and made it her life’s work to find the real names of as many of them as possible in order to give them back their identities…….
The book is written in the form of a novel which by no means takes away from the authenticity of the historical content.
I found The Forgotten Names both informative and inspirational.
I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Harper Muse. The opinions in this review are completely my own.

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The triumphant story of the French men and women who did everything they could against incredible odds to save the lives of Jewish children from the Nazi Extermination camps.

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Thank you NetGalley for the ARC! Just when I thought the atrocities committed by the nazis couldn’t get any worse, I read another novel which highlights yet another of their policies which sicken me. The Forgotten Names by Mario Escobar brings to light another of these senseless, heartbreaking policies-Jewish deportation quotas. Yes, you read that right. It’s not only sickening, it’s also heartbreaking. The story centers around a policy in which a quota of deportees needed to be met by the French government in order to be able to maintain their free zone. However, the church, as well as several members of the resistance, just couldn’t accept that. They took it upon themselves to have parents relinquish their parental rights in order to save their children’s lives. It was both surreal and heartbreaking. To think that one man had the power to lead others to blindly follow his orders out of fear for their own lives as well as their families. I found the parallels the author drew between the deportation of the Jewish people and the Old Testament to be very eye opening. Overall, an incredible true story about courageous people who risked their lives to save the children of Vénissieux.

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This was really well done, it had that historical feel that I was looking for in this type of book. The characters were what I was hoping for and thought they worked with this time-period. I enjoyed the dual timelines and thought the overall feel worked well. I enjoyed the way Mario Escobar wrote this and left me wanting to read more.

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This book is heartbreaking to read, but it is so important that the true history this is based on not be forgotten! The agonies of the Jews being hunted by the Nazis and shipped off to concentration camps is not fun reading. This book centers on Lyon, France, and children who were rescued because their parents gave up their parental rights in order to save their children. The conversations are fictionalized, but many of the characters really lived through that period of World War II. The hope and miraculous deliverances are the bright spots in the story, along with the tale of finding the children who survived. If you can handle reading about the atrocities of the Nazis, the book is well worth reading.

"I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own." #TheForgottenNames #NetGalley

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This is a true historical account of members of the French Resistance hiding and aidindg 108 children who were scheduled to be deported from Lyon France in August 1942. This occurred during when Klaus Barbie was the German commander in the area. This was in the interment camp near Lhon France where families were waiting their fate. By using a French law members were able to obtain signatures from the parents absolving their parental rights and therefore letting the children be orphans.
How we know about this is due to Valerie Porthret who at first wanted to base her thesis about the trial of Klaus Barbie which had occurred in the late 1980s. However, after she found out about the children she decided to change her thesis and write about the children and vowed to find them and give them their real names.

Mario Escobar does research about Valerie and the members of the Resistance. He gives a detailed account on what happened on August 1942 and what hat happened to the children.

I highly recommend this book . I would hope the reader would go beyond the Epilogue and find out more information about Valerie Portheret, the children, and the other members of the team that saved these children

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