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Imagine how it would feel to be plucked from your daily life and transported far from home and forced to work in some unknown and terrible place. Imagine being treated with violence, never having enough to eat, living in bestial conditions, and never knowing if you would see your home again. Imagine feeling so completely powerless.
This is what happened to young Frenchman Roland Chopard, who was arrested by the German SS during a brutal roundup in the Lot et Garonne region in May 1944, just before D-Day. This was the start of a period of forced labour during which he was moved to different places, including Dachau, BMW’s Eisenach factory and ultimately Buchenwald.
Roland survived. Many did not. After his return home in 1945, Roland wrote a compelling account of his experiences. It lay, unread, in the family house in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, until it was found by his son Alex some years after Roland’s death in 2006.
This book is based on Roland’s memoir, the family’s own papers, interviews with his daughter Annie, and the memories of others whose relatives were caught in the same roundup as Roland. It is a personal story set in a particular time, nothing more but nothing less.
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