My Stripes Were Earned in Hell
Number of pages
***Full English translation available***
***Rights sold in Germany and China***
***Recipient of the Académie de l’Institut de France award and the Prix Prévost***
My Stripes Were Earned in Hell is the story of Jean-Pierre Renouard, a gentile, in the concentration camps of Neuengamme, Misburg, and Bergen-Belsen. In this remarkable memoir of a year during which he and the world he knew descended into hell, he recounts his battle to survive, physically, emotionally, and morally.
May 1944. Just a month before the Normandy landings, French underground fighter Jean-Pierre Renouard is captured by the Germans, crammed into a cattle wagon with hundreds of others, and sent to a prison camp in Germany.
He arrives at the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg and is transferred two months later to the Misburg subcamp. In both camps he suffers, as do all the inmates, from inadequate food, shelter, and medicine while being forced to do hard labor. Renouard vividly depicts the labor camp’s brutal daily life and social hierarchies, his personal struggle, the friendships gained and lost, and, of course, his primary task of survival.
When he is finally transferred to Bergen-Belsen, a typhus epidemic has already spread through the overcrowded camp and he must watch his last surviving comrades die. Even after the Allied troops liberate them on April 15, 1945, he is not completely free: Months pass before he is scheduled to return to France.
Written in a deliberately neutral tone, without hatred or even resentment, Renouard’s memoir, My Stripes Were Earned in Hell, is a memorial to those who were murdered and a powerful reminder of the human capacity to commit mass atrocity.
Jean-Pierre Renouard : Jean-Pierre Renouard, a former member of the French Résistance, is a commander of the Legion of Honor. He received the Médaille de la Résistance and the Croix de Guerre. After the war, he moved to the United States, where he graduated from Cornell University School of Business Administration. He has been a member of the Cornell Council since 1989.
M. Maurice Druon (April 23, 1918–April 14, 2009) was a French novelist and a member of the Académie française.