In this gripping memoir, originally published in 1957, the Dutch author, codename ‘Zip’, recounts her extraordinary journey.
A young fighter for the resistance during World War II, Zip is captured and held prisoner as part of the ‘Night and Fog’ unit, political prisoners who wait out the war in a crowded, secret cell. During their long days and nights, each creates a secret embroidery telling the story of their war, including when they are moved from place to place, writing each other’s names in morse code out of contraband black thread. Upon liberation, Zip must find her way back to Holland with her three companions, scant belongings, and any food they can ‘liberate’ or are given by the goodwill of soldiers or villagers along the way.
In cinematic, sweeping prose, Zip reveals all the details of the time, including the camaraderie of fellow political prisoners upon release: the Dutch prisoners of war who have kept their uniforms intact; the French p.o.w.s in threadbare yet debonair getups; the French women resistance fighters who break out in song (‘La Marseillaise’) to reunite a hungry mob; not to mention the Russian liberators, and the American soldiers.
The world they enter has turned upside down. The jovial spirit and giddiness they share at being free is uplifting and unforgettable.
An adroit, page-turning and heroic tale of humanity – after the darkness, there is so much light. The Walls Came Tumbling Down is a true World War II classic.