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Jacques and Lotka
A Resistance Story
By Aude Yung-De Prévaux

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Jacques and Lotka
A Resistance Story
By Aude Yung-De Prévaux
Translated into English by Barbara Wright
Charnwood Large Print, (2002)
ISBN: 0-7089-9303-6
Genre: Biography

Other Editions: Standard Print - Hardcover | Standard Print - Paperback

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - March 31, 2002

The story of Jacques Trolley de Prévaux and Charlotte Leitner is fascinating in its own right. Yet, this story has been made even more poignant by the fact that their daughter, Aude Yung-De Prévaux did not even know that they were her parents until she was 23. And it is only after she learned the identity of her parents that she was able to begin to piece together their remarkable stories, and the work that they accomplished as members of the resistance movement in France during World War II. Their work in the resistance would eventually result in their murder.

Jacques Trolley de Prévaux was a respected naval officer, and he had reached the rank of vice-admiral, in the French Navy, at the time of his death. He came from a staunch Catholic family, and he had broken with family tradition when he entered the navy. He also broke with tradition when he divorced his first wife. He was an energetic, over-achiever, who showed a marked tendency toward being a workaholic. He often overworked himself to the point of illness, but he did manage to master every task he tried his hands at.

Charlotte Leitner, whose nickname was Lotka, was an equally passionate person. Her Orthodox Jewish parents had immigrated to the United States from Poland, and she was born shortly after their arrival. Unlike most immigrants, they did not stay in the United States. Finding conditions not to their liking, they returned to Poland, where Lotka grew up. At the age of 18 she went to Paris to be apprenticed to a famous milliner. It had been planned that she would return to Poland to work in her mother's millinery shop. However, she decided to remain in France, and eventually became a French citizen.

For her part, Aude was raised by her uncle and his wife Micheline, whom she had thought was her real mother. However, when she was 23-years-old she was approached by an old man who declared that she must be the daughter of the famous resistance fighters, Jacques and Lotka. Stunned, Aude questioned her 'mother' who confessed the truth. Aude was indeed the daughter of Jacques and Lotka. Aude had been a mere baby when they were executed on August 19, 1944 by the SS. Jacques had been a resistance leader, and Lotka a courier for the resistance. Both were awarded a host of medals and honors for their bravery and exploits during the war. They were captured by the Gestapo after being set up by an informer. They were tortured before being killed, and tragically, they were executed four days before the prison they were being held in was liberated by Allied forces.

With this knowledge in hand, Aude set out to uncover the truth about her parent's life, and the event that led to their deaths. Written in an honest, and straightforward manner, Jacques and Lotka: A Resistance Story is a compelling biography of two, almost unknown, heros. In this work, Aude explains how she discovered who her parents were, and how and why she undertook the task of researching their story, and why she felt the need to write their biography. This work not only details their work in the resistance, but it also chronicles their early life, how they met, and what their life together was like.

Of the two, the story of Jacques takes up most of this book. In part this is a result of the fact that due to his naval career, there is much more information available about his life. Interestingly, this book looks at the many commands that Jacques held during his naval career, including a stint as commander of the Marquise-Rinxent Airship Base, which also describes how the airships were used. It also appears that another reason that the bulk of this book is devoted to Jacques is the fact that many of the members of Lotka's family, who may have helped fill in some of the blanks about Lotka's life, were murdered by the Nazi's during World War II. Lotka's parents and her sister Mania had moved to France early in the war, thinking that, as Jews, they would be safer in France than in Poland. France did not provide them a haven. Isidore and Bertha Leitner were deported to Auschwitz in 1943. Mania and her husband, Kouba Distenfeld followed in 1944. None returned.

This book was originally written in French, has been expertly translated into English by Barbara Wright. Her translation flows easily, capturing the true essence of Aude's narrative style. This excellent book offers the reader a glimpse not only at the lives of two compelling individuals, but also a glimpse of what life was like for a resistance fighter in France during World War II. This work is enhanced by the inclusion of photos, endnotes, and a time line of Jacques military career.

Jacques and Lotka can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood Large Print.

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